Corby Town were denied a much-needed win as Josh Sanders’ late header earned Peterborough Sports a 2-2 draw at Steel Park.
For a long time, the Steelmen looked comfortable with a 2-1 advantage given to them by first-half goals from Phil Trainer and the returning Sam Mulready.
Ultimately though, two lapses in concentration at the back cost them what would have been a most welcome win in the Evo-Stik League South.
As expected Sam Wilson replaced the injured Paul Bastock in goal while fellow Mansfield Town youngster Zayn Hakeem was named on the bench after the young duo joined on loan this week.
Mulready returned from an ankle injury, Jason Lee captained the team following the departure of Kern Miller and another new signing, Danny Clifton who joined on a dual registration from Hitchin Town, was among the substitutes.
Former Steelmen Lewis Webb, Josh Moreman and Avelino Vieira were all named in the Sports starting line-up while two other ex-Corby players, Liam Marshall and Mark Jones, were on the bench.
The first real action brought with it the opening goal as Sam Warburton stung the palms of Aaron Butcher with a fierce 25-yard effort. And, from the resulting corner, Trainer nodded home to give Corby the lead.
Trainer went close with another header from Steven Leslie’s cross as the hosts took control and Lee Beeson saw a well-struck free-kick tipped over by Aaron Butcher.
Little was seen of the visitors as an attacking force in the although Moreman fired a warning shot, which was blocked by Anton before Sports did draw level.
A low cross from the left was allowed to reach the centre of the penalty area and David Femiola pounced to stab home from six yards.
But Corby regrouped and they regained the lead six minutes before the break. Beeson sent a free-kick into the area and Butcher came to punch but, in the process, flattened Mulready.
A penalty was awarded, debatable to say the least. But Mulready picked himself up to score from 12 yards, despite Butcher getting a hand to it.
The frontman went close again before the break when he turned his marker and saw his shot deflected wide and he also fired just off target from 20 yards early in the second period.
But there were few chances at either end after that with Leslie and Jordon Crawford both shooting over for the host while Jamie Anton made a good challenge to deny Mark Jones in a rare Sports attack.
However, the visitors came close to an equaliser with 19 minutes to go. Moreman crossed from the right and Vieira met it with a firm header but Wilson produced a fine save to keep the Steelmen in front.
Webb blasted over from a good position after Vieira had pulled the ball back from the by-line but Sports did take their chance with two minutes to go.
A free-kick came in from the right and Sanders rose to power a header past the helpless Wilson.
That was a bitter pill to swallow for the Steelmen after a great deal of hard work had gone into getting their noses in front.
But overall, this was a real improvement. And can certainly provide hope that better results may well be on the way.
Steelmen: Wilson; Anton (sub Clifton, 80 mins), Malone, Lee; Smith, Beeson, Leslie, Warburton; Crawford (sub O’Brien, 68 mins); Trainer, Mulready (sub Hakeem, 59 mins). Subs not used: Kennedy, Diamond.
Peterborough Sports: Butcher; Bannister (sub Eason, 88 mins), Sanders, Femiola, Cobb (sub Marshall, 51 mins); Robinson; Macleod, Webb, Lawlor (sub Jones, h-t), Vieira; Moreman. Subs not used: Connell, McGeorge.
Referee: Robbie Dadley.
Goals: Trainer (12 mins, 1-0), Femiola (27 mins, 1-1), Mulready pen (39 mins, 2-1), Sanders (88 mins, 2-2).
Bookings: Mulready (foul).