Jordy Mongoy's dramatic late equaliser salvaged a point for South Shields as the Mariners came from 3-1 behind to draw with Stalybridge Celtic on Saturday.
The substitute struck six minutes into stoppage time at Bower Fold to extend Shields' unbeaten record to 11 games and move them 11 points clear at the top of the Pitching In Northern Premier League.
The away side had much to do when they fell two goals behind early on, with Harry Benns striking twice for Stalybridge.
Dylan Mottley-Henry pulled a goal back just after the half-hour but Raul Correia's penalty in first half stoppage time re-established the hosts' two-goal advantage.
Shields pressed for a route back into the game after the break and pulled one back through Darius Osei with four minutes left before Mongoy's decisive intervention deep into added time.
An unchanged Mariners team took to the field but they were caught out early on when Benns pounced on a loose ball and strode into the box before curling a shot home.
Myles Boney was then called on to palm a Correia effort wide, but Shields appeared to recover from their slow start as they began to wrestle control of the possession and territory.
Stalybridge quickly burst back into life, though, and they doubled their lead when Domaine Rouse's strike from the edge of the box was parried by Boney and the rebound was slammed in by Benns as he doubled his tally for the afternoon.
Shields' unbeaten run was under real threat but they again responded well and halved the deficit as Martin Smith's free-kick from the left found Mottley-Henry at the back post and the forward headed home.
Lewis Alessandra almost equalised with a tremendous effort as he received the ball with his back to goal before turning and unleashing a superb strike which home goalkeeper Joe O'Shaughnessy tipped wide.
Mackenzie Heaney also had a shot from range saved by O'Shaughnessy as the momentum continued to shift in Shields' direction.
However, they were caught with a sucker punch on the stroke of half-time when Boney was adjudged to have fouled Chris Dagnall in the box and Correia slammed home from the spot.
That again left the Mariners with a two-goal deficit to overturn after the break, and they started their comeback attempt well as Mottley-Henry came inside from the left and dragged an effort wide.
Alessandra headed narrowly past the post after getting on the end of a Mottley-Henry cross while at the other end, Boney superbly saved from a corner to keep his side in contention.
After two substitutions were made at half-time, Mongoy was the final player introduced from the bench 23 minutes from the end and he had an immediate impact, finishing well from a Jordan Hunter cross only to be denied by the offside flag.
Stalybridge had opportunities to make the points safe, with the lively Theo Bailey-Jones having a header saved before later rifling the ball against the post from a tight angle.
Shields were running out of time but claimed a lifeline with four minutes remaining when a terrific Mottley-Henry cross was headed into the corner of the net by Osei.
Michael Woods, another substitute, had an opportunity to level in the next attack, but he fired over when well placed.
The game ticked into eight minutes of stoppage time and in the sixth of those, the pivotal moment arrived as Mottley-Henry brilliantly beat his man before his low shot was helped on by Osei and struck into the net from close range by Mongoy.
There was an even later opportunity for the Mariners to grab an unlikely win, but Osei's strike from the left of the box flew wide.
A point was ultimately well-received by Shields as they ended a run of four consecutive away games and extended their lead at the top.
They are back in action on Tuesday when they welcome FC United of Manchester to 1st Cloud Arena.
South Shields: Boney, Hunter, Adams (c), Liddle, Broadbent, Smith (Shokunbi 46), Heaney, Briggs (Woods 46), Osei, Alessandra (Mongoy 67), Mottley-Henry. Subs not used: Gomes, Doherty.
Goals: Mottley-Henry (31), Osei (86), Mongoy (90+6).
Image: Kev Wilson.