VIDEO: A LATE penalty from Ciaran Kilheeney completed a Warrington Town fightback and earned new manager Paul Carden his first point as boss.
It was the second time the captain converted from the spot in the game, as the Yellows came from 2-0 to draw at Stafford.
Not for the first time in the past few weeks, they were forced to come from behind on the road in the Midlands after a miserable start saw them two goals down in the opening 16 minutes.
In the end, Carden and his troops could have been celebrating a win had a blatant penalty on debutant Samuel Ilesamni been given at the death.
The injury-hit Yellows handed debuts to new goalkeeper Anthony McMillan and midfielder Eddie Toner, signed from Burscough in the week, from the start, while the returning Craig Robinson was unexpectedly forced to don a playing jersey once again despite coming back to the club as assistant manager.
Stafford started with their tails up, and they had a chance within the first 60 seconds, striker Jake Sherratt diverting wide from a good position, before McMillan did well to hold a dipping shot from Elliot Hodge.
The Yellows looked unsettled and unsure in midfield, and they fell behind on 11 minutes direct from a set piece, Kris Taylor’s free-kick taking a deflection and leaving McMillan wrong-footed.
The hosts were causing Warrington all sorts of problems from set pieces, and it was from another that they doubled their lead five minutes later.
The first delivery by Taylor was hooked in to the air by Robinson, and after it was headed away, the ball was fired back in and defender Matthew Bailey struck it on the volley and found the net via the far post.
Bailey almost had his second on 20 minutes, his shot deflected over the bar, before McMillan pushed a shot on to his post from point blank range, with James McCarten heading away from under the cross bar.
Warrington finally started to steady the ship from 25 minutes onwards, and they were gifted an opportunity back in to the game on the half hour mark.
Debutant Toner played the ball in to Scott Metcalfe in the box, and his sharp turn and shot saw the referee award a penalty for a handball against Bailey. Up-stepped Kilheeney, and he fired clinically in to the bottom right corner.
Warrington ended the first half on top, and Toner could have levelled things up when he ran on to Danny Hattersley’s knock-down, firing his shot just wide of the far post.
Half-time gave Stafford the chance to re-group, and though Kristian Platt’s header on 52 minutes threatened to be the sign of things for come from Warrington, the visitors proved to be toothless in attack for the majority of the second half.
That was until the introduction of Scott Harries in the final quarter, his determination and direct running getting him to the by-line and as he cut back, his cross was handled by Bailey and the Yellows had a second penalty and the chance to rescue a point.
Kilheeney kept his cool and sent the ‘keeper the wrong way for 2-2.
He could, and perhaps should, have had the chance to complete a hat-trick of penalties when Ilesamni raced away in injury time, only to be hauled down barely five yards from goal, with the referee inexplicably waving it away to the surprise of most of the crowd.
Warrington are back in action next Saturday against Rushall Olympic (3pm).
Stafford Rangers: Whitehouse, Morris, Griffiths, Townsend (Bowen), Bailey, Taylor, Hodge, Gordon, Perry, Sherratt (Geddes), Batcherlor. Unused subs: L Reid, I Reid, Bowerman.
Warrington Town: McMillan, Grogan, Nicholas, Platt (Harries), Robinson, McCarten, Toner, Gillespie, Kilheeney, Hattersley (Ilesamni), Metcalfe (Vassallo). Unused subs: Codling, Wills.