In-form Melton Town once more proved a thorn in the side of league leaders Raunds as they earned an excellent point on the road on Saturday.
Melton arrived buoyed by their recent good performances and with memories fresh of their dominant win against the same opponents earlier ion the month.
Town came out of the traps quickly, and within a minute, Matt Hendey played Zak Ginvert through whose shot was tipped over by Chris Jones.
Raunds went close when Josh Davis raced down the left and sent a first-time cross towards Ty Clark who blasted over from two yards.
But Melton were soon back on the attack and from their first set piece, Matt Hendey’s floated free-kick found Tom Byrne whose volley was blocked on the line.
And Raunds narrowly survived another scare from the resulting corner when Matt Hendey headed back across goal for Kieran Foster whose header hit the foot of the post.
Captain Chris Hibbitt then beat two defenders and forced another save from Jones with a low shot as Melton fashioned the best chances despite Raunds bossing the early possession.
The hosts had their best opportunity midway through the half when Charlie Fowler played a one-two with Josh Davis whose shot flashed across goal, with Clark inches away from touching the ball in.
Byrne then beat Fred Devereux down the left on the counter-attack and sent in a cross which skimmed the bar, with Foster putting the rebound over.
But on the half-hour mark, Melton finally took a deserved lead.
George Coser’s beautiful pass found Foster clear on the right, and he played a slide-rule pass through for Ginvert whose first-time shot was blocked on the line by Jones.
Byrne was crudely brought down as he pounced on the rebound, and placed the resulting penalty low to the right of the keeper.
Melton attacked again from the restart with Ginvert’s low shot tipped around the post and just before half-time Mike Hendey’s cross into the box caused a mass scramble which ended with Jones saving another Ginvert shot
Raunds came out with renewed vigour for the second half, and from their first attack, Daniel Porter raced down the right and put in a looping cross, but Charlie Fowler’s header flashed across the goal and evaded everyone.
And Byrne then had to head off the line to deny Clark after another run from Porter.
Foster had a great chance to double the lead when Byrne’s cross found him unmarked, but the forward fired over from five yards.
And Raunds made the visitors pay with 20 minutes left when Fowler’s quickly-taken free-kick quick caught Melton off-guard and flew into an empty net.
The resulting arguments between the Melton players and referee saw Hibbitt shown a red card for dissent.
Town dug in and the only chance they allowed the league leaders came with four minutes left when Ty Clark received the ball on the edge of the area and fired a shot against the crossbar.
The clearance found Melton substitute Josh Clark who slipped past the last defender and went clear on goal, but his pace got the better of him as he stood on the ball.
Town’s latest positive performance left them unbeaten in three, and now just needing some wins to move up the table and into the top eight.
Tenth-placed Huntingdon are the next visitors to Digital Deadline Park on Saturday (kick-off 3pm).