Formartine United battled back from 2-0 down against Forres Mechanics to earn a point and keep their title challenge firmly on course.
The Pitmedden side are a point in front of Cove Rangers and have three games to play, while the Aberdeen club have two.
United looked to be out of it when they trailed by two at half-time, but a spirited fightback in which they netted twice in six minutes inched them closer to the league crown.
With a strong breeze at their backs, the Can Cans sought to impose themselves and established an early territorial advantage. By 23 minutes they had built up not only a measure of control in most areas of the field of play, but crucially a two-goal lead.
In this period, despite their ascendency, they had achieved only two shots on target. Fortune was not favouring Formartine when each of these yielded a goal. Ominously for the home side they had failed to gain a single shot on target and to be brutally frank, fairly few off target either.
The current champions took the lead in the 16th minute from a corner. Lee Fraser got a fierce header onto it to direct it downwards into the net.
The reaction by Forres players and fans was as if they had won a trophy rather than just having scored a decent goal.
Minutes later they were two up when Fraser managed to slip or rather, barge his way between Campbell and McKeown to get in one-on-one with Shearer. He then picked his spot and struck the ball crisply home for his second.
Formartine continued their uphill struggle until half-time and did enough to contain the still dominant Mechanics until the break.
From the resumption United, with the wind at their backs and the noise of managerial rockets ringing in their ears, set about forcing their way back into the game. Rusty Smith in holding midfield with Calum Bagshaw in central and Webster out wide battled it out and began not only to exert pressure but to ask increasingly difficult questions.
For the first fifteen minutes it yielded pressure, territory and optimism but no goals. Dingwall, was replaced by Dan Park who scored within a minute of arriving on the pitch. After a period of siege on the Forres box, following a Webster diagonal box into the area he picked up the ball right on the front edge of the area. He turned with the poise of a veteran and curled the ball way beyond the reach of Knight’s left hand and into the net in the 61st minute.
It only took another four minutes to level the game. Mike Ewen has appeared on nearly every scoring list this season. He fulfilled expectations with a typical striker’s finish.
Again the goal followed sustained Formartine pressure. After the ball had bobbed around in the box, the lightning reflexes of the league’s leading hitman got him first to a loose ball to clip it precisely through a thicket of legs into the net just inside the keeper’s left upright.
Formartine were after all three points and now looked like they fancied their chances. But Forres are made of pretty stern stuff and stubbornly refused to yield another. The result leaves Formartine needing six points from their last three games, all of which are at North Lodge Park, to win the league.
Formartine United: Shearer, Jeffrey, S.Smith, McKeown, M.Smith, Campbell, Bagshaw, Wilson, Dingwall, Ewen, Webster. Subs: Soane, Park, Robertson, Munro, Donald.
Forres Mechanics: Knight, G, Fraser, McGovern, S Fraser, Sharp, McPherson, Jones, Lawrie, L Fraser, Scott, Moore. Subs McMullan, Archibald, Duguid,Brown, McIntosh