Our first game of 2024 ended in a 3-3 draw after coming back from two goals down at the Bob Lucas Stadium.
Ezio Touray was the star man, coming on as a super-sub to provide a goal and an assist late in the second half.
Our other goalscorer in the match was the in-form Brandon Goodship, halving our deficit twice during the game to help give us a much-needed point.
The goal machine, doing what he does best, netting from the spot at the end of the first half, before firing into the bottom-left corner 12 minutes from full-time.
With 21st-place Eastbourne Borough losing 4-0 to Worthing, any point achieved on New Year’s Day would be vital.
Whilst this is now our 13th draw in 25 games, we have put ourselves SIX points above the relegation zone, all whilst playing a game less than the East Sussex outfit.
For the first time this season, Bobby Wilkinson made ZERO changes from the line-up and bench that beat the same opponents 3-2 on Boxing Day.
It was barely a minute into the game where our unaltered side looked to produce a similar result.
Tom Bearwish was fouled outside the box, giving Goodship the opportunity to step up and grab his fifth goal in 10 games.
The forward sent the ball over the wall and towards Max Harris, only being denied by the crossbar.
The ball then began to bounce on the line, before it was hastily cleared to safety.
We would then have our own work to do just four minutes later, when Gerard Benfield was forced to make a smart save following Reuben Reid’s deflected shot.
Reid’s chance came from a curving through-ball from Jason Pope down the right-hand side, landing at the forward’s feet.
The game was then devoid of clear-cut chances for either side, as heavy rain began chucking down.
The subsequent minutes would see some good defending from both sides, Harris and Teddy Howe particularly being susceptible to snuffing out potential danger.
Any hopes for a clean sheet ended spectacularly after 24 minutes.
Sam Avery, dismissed in the reverse fixture, was the opening scorer, bundling home past Benfield.
The goal came from a Dayle Grubb set-piece, who swung in a dangerous delivery from the right past our helpless defence to give the visitors the lead.
Our one-goal deficit would last less than a minute, for all the wrong reasons.
An unfortunate miscontrol from Joe Cook allowed Reid to begin a mazy run, before threading the ball to Grubb, who then delicately found Alex Fletcher with a cross.
Firstly heading the ball against Jordon Thompson, Fletcher managed to strike the ball under Benfield, doubling his side’s lead.
We could have gone even further down nine minutes on, had Grubb’s pinpoint accurate free-kick not gently bounced off the bar.
However, our concerns then turned to something more serious when Charlie Rowan collided with Avery, needing eight minutes of treatment for a suspected head injury.
Thankfully, Rowan, who was stretchered off, was up and talking once the game had finished.
Our fortunes would luckily begin to change from then on, which began with a Goodship cross just before the awarded 10-minute stoppage time.
The star man managed to whip in a delivery from the left, before the ball began to bounce in and around the box.
It struck Pope’s hand in the process, resulting in a penalty being awarded.
The decision was not given without protest, no less from Pope, who claimed the ball struck his hip.
The opposition’s anger, though, did little to bother Goodship, who coolly placed past Harris into the bottom-right corner.
Goodship’s penalty gave us a lifeline, as we went into the break only a goal down.
The second half began as intense as the first, with the abundance of opportunities for both sides showing no sign of slowing down.
We perhaps could have drawn level from one of our chances barely a minute after halftime.
A perfect low-driven cross from Teddy Howe landed to the feet of Alfie Rutherford, who poked wide of goal.
In the forward’s defence, the presence of Lloyd Humphries appeared to do enough to prevent Rutherford from hitting the target.
Parsons then tried his luck from about 20 yards out after 55 minutes, missing the target in the process.
Our missed chances would look to prove costly just two minutes later.
Robbie Willmott slid a short pass to Reid, whose accurate low shot was just about enough to slide past Benfield at his near post.
We then found ourselves nearly three goals down around 10 minutes later when Benfield’s attempted stop did not look enough to prevent a Reid hat-trick.
The heroics of substitute Calvin Brooks was the sole reason Reid did not get his third goal of the game, valiantly rushing to slide in and clear the ball off the line.
With our players still being 3-1 down as the game approached 70 minutes, it would take something special for us to leave the game with any points.
With this in mind, Touray was introduced in place of Rutherford with just 13 minutes to go.
His introduction paid dividends a mere few seconds later, as he burst past the Weston defence to find Bearwish, who then found Goodship to reduce our deficit with a sweet strike inside the box.
As we now found ourselves only one goal down, our recent matches against The Seagulls suggested that another twist of the tale would soon come.
Two minutes before stoppage time would be when we found the vital third goal, with super-sub Touray being at the centre of it all once again.
Leo Hamblin provided an accurate cross from the left, finding Touray, whose bouncing header went beyond Harris to make it 3-3.
This was the last crucial chance of the game for either side, leaving Touray the hero as the points were shared.
Having now scored six goals in our last two games, we have the opportunity to display our threat upfront once more at Tonbridge on Saturday [15.00 GMT].
By Jack Webb