A late Raunds goal robbed Melton Town of their second win in the United Counties League on Saturday.
Down to 10 men after 40 minutes following Gus Gentleman’s sending off, Town responded brilliantly, and only the late equaliser spoiled their efforts.
With a swirling wind troubling both teams, neither side could create any positive moves in a scrappy opening until the hosts broke down the right and Kieran Clayton had to move smartly to clear a dangerous low cross.
After 10 minutes, Melton broke out to shock the visitors with a fine goal.
A move down the right involving Ben Lapworth and Adam Bishop ended with the latter forcing a corner. Bishop drove over the set piece and Clayton rose to send a firm header into the net.
Keeper Ash King was guilty of dwelling on the ball and when his attempted clearance was charged down, the visitors were fortunate to clear their lines.
Two Raunds corners caused Town problems, but King redeemed himself with a fine catch from a swirling inswinging corner.
Ash Palfreyman, Town’s top scorer, and strike partner John Love worked hard to make an impact, but the home defence were giving little away.
And after half-an-hour Raunds equalised when a long throw-in from the left was only partially cleared and Harrison fired the loose ball home.
This gave the hosts the encouragement they needed, forcing Melton’s defence to work hard, but Clayton, Slater, Williams and Lapworth all did well.
But five minutes before half-time a rash challenge from midfielder Gentleman saw him immediately red-carded.
Raunds began brightly after the break and two crosses from the right flashed across the face of goal, but Melton scrambled both to safety.
A move down the left then opened up Melton and White looked a certain scorer when the loose ball dropped at his feet, but King came to the rescue with a brilliant point-blank save and Williams cleared.
Melton hit back with Bishop racing through and looking a likely scorer, but Jones blocked his final shot and Raunds cleared the danger.
King had to be on his toes to collect two low crosses before Town went in front for the second time in the 70th minute.
Lapworth blocked an attempted clearance and the ball fell to Palfreyman who calmly fired home from 12 yards.
Raunds responded, but were guilty of wasting possession with several poor overhit crosses, and when they did break through, King was again alert, diving to his left to stop Harrison’s fierce low drive.
But just when the points looked in the bag, Raunds snatched an 88th minute equaliser.
A long cross from the left was headed back across goal for Townsend who headed home from close range.
A disappointing end, but after playing for more than 50 minutes with 10 men, Melton contained their opponents with Clayton, Williams, Slater and Lapworth all excellent.
Up front Love worked hard with Palfreyman taking his goal well. Despite their best efforts, Bishop, Trueman and Baker were unable to push forward after the red card, but overall Melton can take heart from a well-earned point from their mid-table hosts.
Melton are on their travels again with a midweek trip to league leaders Oakham United on Wednesday (7.45pm) followed by a trip to Olney on Saturday.
Melton: A. King, K. Clayton, J. Williams, J. Slater, B. Lapworth, J. Baker, S. Trueman, A. Bishop, J. Love, A. Palfreyman, G. Gentleman, A. Horobin, S. Myring, S. Smith.