Melton Mowbray staged a remarkable fightback as three goals in the final 10 minutes rescued a victory at Barlestone St Giles on Saturday.
The Senior League title challengers were returning to action after a five-week weather enforced lay-off, but played very well in the first half.
Yet they failed to capitalise as David Hazeldine wasted a couple of good chances.
Mowbray were rocked at the start of the second half when Barlestone’s in-form striker Craig Leonard hit a quickfire double.
The visitors were stunned and it wasn’t until the introduction of Steff Stapleton, 20 minutes from time, which got Melton back into the game.
Stapleton halved the deficit with a header 10 minutes left and then equalised on the stroke of full-time when he prodded home as he attacked a cross.
Melton then stole all three points in added time when Cooper’s free-kick was headed home by Kieran Clayton to cap a breathless finale.
The win kept Matt Curtis and Cliff Thornton’s side handily-placed in third, 13 points behind leaders Sileby Town, but with five games in hand.
Man-of-the-match, sponsored by Melton Health Alliance, was Kieran Clayton.
On Saturday, Melton return to Hoby Road when they host 13th-placed Kirby Muxloe Reserves. Kick-off is 2pm.
Melton: Cragg, Lapworth. Chiavetta, Cooper, Palfreyman, Clayton, Baker, Foster, Myring (Stapleton), Black, Hazeldine.
* A much-changed Melton side were knocked out of the Beacon Bitter League Cup on Tuesday evening at a windswept Hoby Road.
With Mowbray bosses opting to rotate the squad and give game time to fringe players, Friar Lane and Epworth won the second round tie 4-0 thanks to goals from N. Preston (2), Foster and Rowley.