Whitby Town player-manager Darren Williams was furious after another late penalty cost his side on their travels.
Town have given away four penalties - all away from home - in their last five matches and Williams blamed referee Anthony Da Costa for the latest award.
“The referee’s lost the game”, Williams complained. “We defended really well and had by far the greater chances, though maybe we should’ve sealed the game.”
Williams made one change from the side that drew 1-1 at home to Trafford in midweek, with goalscorer Dave McTiernan replacing Richard Pell, as Town saved their big centre-half for Wednesday’s League Cup clash.
Barwell adjusted better to a heavy, uneven pitch and came close on seven minutes when Danny Quinn’s deflected 18-yard effort left Shane Bland flatfooted, but fortunately passed inches wide of the teenage keeper’s right-hand post.
The resulting left-wing corner was headed past the far post by Scott Hadland.
Hadland then nodded straight at Bland on 12 minutes and moments later, Luke Barlone pulled back from the byline, but Hadland’s snapshot was blocked behind by Lee Bullock.
Midway through the first half, Town finally started to show as Steven Snaith broke at speed down the right flank and saw his angled 12-yard near-post drive deflected wide.
The former Hartlepool United forward got free again, nine minutes before half-time, this time slipping a lovely ball into Graeme Armstrong, only for Liam Castle to save bravely at the striker’s feet.
“We started with 4-4-2 against their three in the middle of the park,” Williams revealed.
The Blues looked narrow with wingers Nathan Mulligan and Lee Mason tucking in.
“We got at them a lot more in the second half and it worked.”, added Williams.
After the East Midlands hosts flashed a dangerous ball across the face of Bland’s goal, Whitby dominated after the break.
Four minutes in, Snaith headed into Armstrong’s path and the ex-Blyth marksman’s half-volley was parried point-blank by Castle.
Three minutes later, Mulligan’s looping free-kick to the far post was fired goalward by Armstrong, only for Castle to again block at the hitman’s feet.
However, the Blues pressure finally told just before the hour as McTiernan tricked his way down the right flank and drove across goal for Snaith to slide in emphatically, ahead of Castle, at the near post, for his third goal in three games.
Lee Mason then slammed inches over the bar, aided by a big deflection.
Williams replaced Mulligan with Adam Rundle for the final seventeen minutes, but Town were nearly down to ten men as Mason saw yellow and Kev Burgess was fortunate to be booked for shoving Luke Richards in the chest, a couple of yards from the referee.
Barwell, who came from nowhere to force a 2-2 draw at the Turnbull in September, then netted a fortunate equaliser as Town conceded a soft penalty yet again.
The Blues have been penalised at Stamford, Worksop Town and AFC Fylde in the past fortnight and were harshly hit again when good work from Connor Gudger set up Hadland, who went down theatrically after the slightest brush with Shane Henry.
Henry was the victim a week earlier when Stamford’s Alvin Jarvis threw himself to the ground, though Town were 2-0 up by then.
That wasn’t the case at Barwell and Barlone promptly stepped up and levelled the scores, despite Bland diving the right way and getting a good hand on the ball, but only managing to divert in into the roof of the net.
“I think the lad’s made an absolute meal of it.”, Williams raged. “I hate play-acting and it’s the same for a lot of our players.
Graeme Armstrong’s been niggled at but he’s an honest lad and stayed on his feet.
Then there was a blatant push with two hands in the back of Kev Burgess.
If he’s given theirs, then he’s got to give that.”
The match went end-to-end as both sides chased the victory- Craig Farrell replaced Snaith for the last two minutes, but pulled up with a groin strain early on and only looked half-paced compared with Snaith’s tireless running.
Even so, the former York marksman hooked inches wide, first-time, from the edge of the box and Burgess went down from a corner, but to no avail, despite furious calls from several Town players and the Blues bench.
Bland then did superbly, at the other end, to keep out Hadland’s last-gasp far-post header
Barwell: Castle, Lower, Gudger, Spencer, Hood, Edwards, Julien (Brehon 72), S Hadland, Barlone, Griffith-Junior (Lavery 72), Quinn (Richards 65). Subs not used: G Hadland, Wren.
Whitby Town: Bland, Hassan, Robinson, Burgess, Bullock, McTiernan, Henry, Mason, Armstrong, Mulligan (Rundle 73), Snaith (Farrell 88).
Subs not used: Pell, Campbell (GK), Williams.
Barwell 1 Whitby Town 1