Not so long back, South Shields looked odds-on to take the Evo-Stik League North title.
They may still do so of course, but Saturday`s goalless draw at Mariners Park against lower mid-table Radcliffe FC followed hot on the heels of a 1-1 draw with second-placed Hyde United in midweek, and with the Tigers winning, the gap at the top is now only a point.
Shields had a golden opportunity to win the game in front of another excellent crowd of 1,360 when they were awarded a 69th minute penalty for a foul by Callum Grogan on Carl Finnegan for which the Boro player received a straight red card.
But Finnigan’s spot-kick was saved low to his left by Connor Keane.
Hyde overcame Kendal Town 3-1 at Ewen Fields in front of 392.
Tyrone Gay gave the Tigers a great start with a goal inside the opening 9 minutes.
Matty Beadle converted a penalty on the half-hour mark following a foul on Luke Porritt and Karl Jones wrapped up the points with a third 10 minutes from time.
Kendal had a late rally and were awarded a penalty in the 86th minute when a handball was given against Ross Daley and Gareth Arnison slotted the spot-kick past Peter Crook in the Hyde goal.
Hyde returned to second spot after Scarborough Athletic – now a point behind – couldn`t find the net at fourth-placed Bamber Bridge, whose point takes them to within seven of Boro, but more importantly, twelve above the seventh-place team.
Fifth-placed Prescot Cables also endured a 0-0 draw in their game at Dimple Wells against second-bottom Ossett Albion.
Prescot Cables started the better of the sides and made a few early chances before the game settled into a stalemate.
The second half was much the same until just after the hour-mark when Albion’s Ross Hardaker was dismissed for a challenge.
Prescot pressed forward but the nearest they came was a shot into the side netting from Josh Klein-Davies.
Trafford currently occupy the final play-off slot after their 1-0 win at home to Colne, courtesy of a goal from Danny Frost 5 minutes from time.
Tadcaster Albion are two points behind Trafford in seventh after a 4-0 trouncing of a Droylsden side who have fallen away after nine games without a win.
Josh Barrett bagged a brace for Taddy in the 43rd and 61st minutes, with Billy Whitehouse after 76 minutes and Chris Howarth 5 minutes from time adding to the tally.
Colwyn Bay and Clitheroe cannot be ruled out of top six contention, with Bay beating fourth-bottom Brighouse Town 4-0 at Llanelian Road with a hat-trick from Astley Mulholland after 28, 49 and 59 minutes – Danny Andrews sandwiching the other just before the break.
But Clitheroe`s game at Mossley AFC was postponed.
Bottom side Goole AFC are now just a point behind Ossett Albion after winning 2-1 at third-bottom Skelmersdale United.
Scott Smith gave the Vikings the boost of a goal right on half-time.
Chris Walton doubled that lead on 63 minutes, and although Josh Wardle reduced the deficit 4 minutes later, Goole hung on.
Ramsbottom United will be looking over their shoulders at the bottom after losing 2-0 at the Harry Williams Riverside Stadium to Ossett Town, whose Jason Yates after 69 minutes and Charlie Freeman 10 minutes later were on target.
Elsewhere, Atherton Collieries made it six games without defeat with a 2-1 success at Glossop North End, thanks to Ben Hardcastle and Vinnie Bailey outgunning Courtney Meppen-Walter.