BY the time Shelley arrived at Rowley Lane School for their Division II encounter with Lepton Highlanders, the early morning rain had disappeared and the pitch was in excellent condition.

With both sides hoping to grab a place in the top four of the division, losing was never an option as they both wanted to stay among the leading group.

Shelley were first to feel the pressure as Lepton set up some useful raids down both flanks and only a superb double save from Shelley keeper Luke Jagger kept the scoreline blank.

Shelley finally began to show why they are unbeaten so far this season and, despite some fine defending from Ceiran Keating and the outstanding Patrick Clarke-Spears, a series of corners finally led to the opening goal when the home side failed to clear and Alex Joyce slammed the ball through a crowded penalty area to give Shelley the lead.

Jordan Letherland and midfielder Callum Scott continued to torment Shelley but some sterling defending by Keanu Manning, Danny Baker, Joyce and Luke Schofield kept the home side at bay while keeper Jagger was equal to any goalbound shots.

With half time approaching fast, Adam Broadbent looked to have doubled Shelley’s score but the ball rolled agonisingly wide of the target as everyone expected it to finish in the net.

Shelley’s miss proved costly as, from the re-start, a Lepton attack produced a corner which Makenzie Longley volleyed into the top corner to give the home side a vital equaliser on the stroke of half time.

Both sides were playing some highly attractive football and there was plenty of goalmouth action to keep the supporters on their toes, but the Highlanders enthusiasm to get another goal left them exposed at the back.

And Shelley’s Josh Dyson took full advantage as a long clearance caught the home defence off-guard allowing him the chance to fire his side back into the lead with a shot from 15 yards past onrushing keeper William Harris.

End-to-end football continued and Shelley almost put the result beyond doubt, but the woodwork came to Lepton’s rescue.

At the other end, Letherland had the chance to level the scores when he was upended in the penalty area, but the striker’s spot kick was well saved by the reliable Jagger in the Shelley goal.

With the final whistle just moments away, Shelley looked to have wrapped up the three points but their hopes were dashed as Dominic Senior became the Lepton hero when his hopeful 20-yard shot flew into the corner of the Shelley net.

While Shelley may feel they dropped two points, Lepton deserved to get something and this was a fitting end to a highly entertaining game.