CARELESS Town tossed away a two-goal lead against Bristol City for the second time this season.
Down at Ashton Gate in September, Brian Tinnion's battlers fought back from 3-1 down to take a League I point with two goals in the last 10 minutes.
And at the Galpharm yesterday, they rallied after trailing 2-0 to secure a draw with a 71st-minute header by top scorer Leroy Lita and a stoppage-time own goal by Nathan Clarke.
It was tough luck on the young centre-back, who was trying to head clear from Mickey Bell's corner but only succeeded in looping the ball over his own goalline.
But as a team, Town only had themselves to blame after taking a firm grip through a Tony Dinning own goal on 18 minutes and Pawel Abbott's 17th strike of the season on 58.
At that stage they looked easily capable of fulfilling manager Peter Jackson's request for a clean sheet and earning a much-needed win.
But as a double substitution by Bristol player-manager Tinnion, who brought on himself and Lita after 53 minutes and switched from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3, began to take effect, Town started to look shaky.
As at Hull on Saturday, Town had started strongly, reorganising smoothly after left-back David Mirfin was forced off after only nine minutes to take the game to their visitors.
With Mirfin suffering a recurrence of the thigh strain first suffered in the 2-2 draw at Bournemouth seven days ago and which kept him out of Saturday's 2-1 loss at Hull, Jackson brought on Nat Brown at right-back and switched Andy Holdsworth to the left.
Brown, who had featured just once in the previous 15 matches, as a substitute in the home in over Wrexham, showed plenty of appetite for this game, settling fast, defending strongly and featuring in some enterprising attacking play.
With 12 minutes gone, he played a neat touchline one-two with John McAliskey and freed Abbott, who was blocked by the alert Jamie Smith.
John Worthington shot over soon after, then set up Abbott to turn on the edge of the box and fire a rising drive just too high, before Brown played a key role in the opening goal.
As Clarke fired in a long-range free-kick, the 23-year-old rose to head the ball into the penalty area.
The lurking Abbott was unable to connect, but the ball fell nicely to Chris Brandon who drew two men and played a lovely back-heel towards the edge of the six-yard box.
Dinning instinctively struck out a foot, but could only fire the ball against teammate Clayon Fortune and watch it rebound into goalkeeper Steve Phillips' right-hand corner.
The goal sparked a bright spell by Town, with Fortune having to tackle cleanly to rob the rampaging Clarke after a neat exchange with Danny Schofield and Dinning earning a deserved booking after ending Brandon's 25th-minute run on goal with a late challenge.
Efe Sodje had a header cleared before Tony Carss' shot was held by Phillips.
The chances continued to arrive as the impressive Fortune did well to block a Brown header before Brandon tested Phillips with a low 20-yard drive.
The second goal finally came 13 minutes into the second half, with Abbott keeping cool to lob over Phillips after centre-back Danny Coles sold his goalkeeper short with a weak header from Brandon's ball over the top.
Brandon twice had shots held before blasting over, and Carss was also denied by Phillips before Lita applied the finishing touch after Dinning headed down a Bell cross.
Now Town looked a trifle nervy, and while Schofield had a 20-yard shot saved, Bristol were looking lively.
There was a late let-off when Holdsworth diverted Lita's low shot for a corner, but from the subsequent flag kick came Clarke's costly slip-up.
Town's day was summed up when Brandon's crisp stoppage-time drive hit the outside of Phillips' left-hand post.
Man of the Match: NAT BROWN
A BIG display by the versatile 23-year-old, who came off the bench after only nine minutes to take over the right-back berth after Andy Holdsworth was switched to the left in place of the injured David Mirfin. Brown soon settled and was solid in the tackle, clean in the air and bright going forward.
How they rated:
Paul Rachubka Could do little about either goal and made some decent saves, although his clearances were a little inconsistent. Rating: 7/10.
Andy Holdsworth Considering he was switched from right to left-back after just nine minutes, a praiseworthy performance. Rating: 7/10.
David Mirfin Only had time to make a couple of challenges and pump up a speculative high ball before being forced off with a nagging thigh problem. Rating: 6/10.
Nathan Clarke Impossible not to feel for the 21-year-old, who apart from his last-gasp own-goal blunder, played pretty well. Rating: 7/10.
Efe Sodje Did some good things but also made a few mistakes after keeping his berth in the wake of post-Hull criticism by the manager. Rating: 6/10.
Tony Carss As ever, produced some decent passes and bright approach play but didn't really sparkle in this one. Rating: 6/10.
Jon Worthington The Town skipper put in his usual share of hard work, but made some poor passes and got another booking. Rating: 6/10.
John McAliskey Showed some neat footwork at times but in the main, got little change from the even taller Clayton Fortune. Rating: 6/10.
Danny Schofield Another busy game both in terms of attacking and tackling. A goal would give him a big boost. Rating: 7/10.
Pawel Abbott Posed problems for the Bristol City defence throughout and took his 17th goal of the season very well. Rating: 7/10.
Chris Brandon An impressive effort by the energetic midfielder who was constantly looking to get Town moving and test Bristol goalkeeper Steve Philips. Rating: 7/10.
Town substitutes: Brown for Mirfin 9mins, Mendes for McAliskey 82mins. Not used: Ahmed, Fowler, Senior.
BRISTOL CITY: Phillips, Smith, Coles, Fortune, Bell, Murray (Tinnion, 53mins), Orr, Dinning, Wilkshire (Lita, 54mins), Heffernan, Brooker (Goodfellow, 68mins). Subs not used: Amankwaah, Brown.