Arundel Football Club edged a point closer to securing their Southern Combination League Premier Division status last night.
Jack Barnes’ penalty opener was cancelled out by a Lewis Jenkins header as Mullets sealed a 1-1 draw with rivals East Preston at Mill Road.
It was a derby lacking in quality but both teams had chances to take all three points.
For Richard Towers’ Arundel, a share of the spoils moved them closer to staying in the SCFL Premier Division.
Going into the derby clash second from bottom, Mullets remain 19th but have a three-point cushion over basement boys Littlehampton Town and trail place-above Worthing United by a point with a game in hand on them.
Despite seeing his side come away with a draw, Arundel manager Towers was not pleased with the display.
He said: “We really needed to win this game. I’d say out of the past four games we’ve played in such a short space of time, this was our worst performance.
“We looked tired, weren’t sharp and just laboured through the game. We huffed and puffed but didn’t do enough to get all three points.
“I was hoping for a big performance but I think so many games in such close proximity has taken it out of the boys.
“The quality from the other games, although we haven’t been getting the results, was missing and we’ve played much better.”
East Preston were awarded a penalty after a quiet opening. Defender Tom Lyne went down under a challenge from Arundel forward Josh Biggs, with a spot-kick given on 25 minutes. Jack Barnes kept his cool, sending Dan Stevens the wrong way and firing EP ahead.
Mullets responded well and levelled things ten minutes later. Josh Biggs made up for giving a penalty away as his hooked pass found Jenkins, who was on hand to head past Ben Purkis.
Both teams had chances to win it after the restart. Jarvis worked some crossing room, picking out Harry Russell – whose recently returned after a long injury lay-off – but Purkis was equal to his drive on 52 minutes.
Mullets stopper Stevens was given a let-off 17 minutes from time. Stevens’ scuffed clearance fell to Dan Huet, who took the ball in his path before Mullets ‘keeper Stevens made a fine recovery save as it finished 1-1.
East Preston boss Bob Paine – whose side moved up a place to 13th after the draw – was satisfied with a point.
He said: “I’d have taken the result before the game. It was a match lacking a bit of quality and I felt we were generally in control.
“We worked hard but just lacked quality in the final third.”
Arundel face four games in eight days, starting at Loxwood on Saturday, in their bid for survival. East Preston entertain AFC Uckfield Town on Saturday.
ARUNDEL: Stevens; Lofting, Dudas, Dollner, Callaghan; Hallett, Jenkins; Russell, R.Biggs, Jarvis; J.Biggs. Subs: Hunter (Dudas, 88), S.Towers, Gibb, Jephson (Russell, 81).
EAST PRESTON: Purkis; DaCosta, Lyne, Etherington, Beaney; Lelliott, Barnes; Heryet, Hunter, Brodie; Huet. Subs: Josh Parazo, Quirke (Hunter, 45), Searle (Lelliott, 88), Laughlin, Donaldson.