"WE DESERVED to come away with a draw," insisted Lee Casswell after 10-man Leek Town forced an FA Trophy replay against Matlock Town despite the sending off of Dan Smith with more than half an hour still remaining.
The Blues boss said: "In the circumstances I thought the entire team and two substitutes dug in and did well to get the draw. I wanted more commitment and determination after the Halesowen game and that’s what we got.
"In the first half there wasn't much to choose between the two sides but after going down to 10 men we deserved to come away with a draw. All four defenders along with George Melling and Danny Lloyd-Weston and the remainder of the team came out of the game with real credit.
"It was backs to the wall stuff so all credit to the lads. Football is not just about attacking, its also about defending as well."
Matlock attacked from the off and Massiah McDonald looped a shot over the crossbar in the opening minute while at the other end Matt Haddrell headed straight at the keeper from a Tim Sanders free-kick.
In the 11th minute Matlock carved out a chance but Joe Leesley's shot was deflected for a corner. However, Leek came closest to opening the scoring in the 14th minute when they caused panic in the home defence. Peter Weight's fierce shot was parried by Gladiators keeper Jon Kennedy straight into the path of Dan Shelley who crashed a close range shot into the upright before Anthony Danylyk saw his follow-up blocked.
Matlock continued to push forward without much success until the 21st minute when McDonald escaped the off-side flag to go one-on-one with Leek keeper Daniel Lloyd-Weston who pulled off a superb save - diving at the on-loan striker's feet.
In the 34th minute the referee allowed play to continue after Ricky Bridge was scythed down by Leesley and Tim Grice went on to fire wide of the near post. Leek applied further pressure at the end of the half when Sam Hall had a shot deflected over the crossbar before an effort from Sanders shot was blocked.
In the second half Matlock's James Ashmore and Leesley both wasted early opportunities while Blues came closest in the 50th minute when Bridge and Grice combined to set up Haddrell whose header sailed inches wide of the upright.
Blues were dealt a hammer blow in the 54th minute when Dan Smith threw himself into the path of a fierce shot right on the goal-line and handled the ball. The defender was shown a straight red but Matlock substitute Lewis McMahon shot hopelessly wide of the target from the subsequent spot kick.
Gladiators continued to look for the elusive opener against a Leek side now reduced to 10 men. McDonald shot well wide before McMahon and Yates also failed to hit the target. In a rare Lek foray Ross Davidson embarked on a good run down the right on 70 minutes to set up Haddrell who drove his shot over the crossbar.
Lloyd-Weston denied McDonald again with another brave save in the 79th minute. And five minutes later the Leek keeper pulled off an even better save from the same player to keep his clean sheet and earn his side a replay.