Launceston City has hung on staunchly during a dramatic ending to earn the 0-0 draw that the luckless strugglers felt it was owed.
But Devonport City had one final chance to break the deadlock off a set piece in Saturday’s NPL encounter.
Michael Holden’s last-gasp shot rebounded off rival Jarrod Linger in the first minute of injury time before the ball was cleared.
The goalless northern derby at Buckby Land Rover Park was almost a replica of their last meeting until the Strikers scored in the 87th minute to pinch all three points.
Launceston coach Ben Brookfield had only last week called that late loss to the title contenders City’s best game to date.
But after suffering a poor seven-goal defeat last week to Olympia Warriors, the optimistic Brookfield may well reassess his season analysis.
Meanwhile two weeks after putting on 10 goals in the largest win of the year, Devonport have not put one in the back of the net since and struggled to put away its 10 direct and half-chances to Launceston’s six.
Chris Gallo’s men, in the race to defend their premiership crown, now climb within one point of current NPL leaders South Hobart, who face Olympia on Sunday.
Northern Rangers have missed a golden opportunity to draw within five points of the top four in what would be a return to their 2015 form.
But Clarence United proved up to the task to take home a 1-1 draw at the NTCA Ground in one of two twilight fixtures in Launceston.
Two goals in two minutes had teased supporters early on, but both sides had to be content for the next 60 minutes to pick up a point each.
Nick Lanau-Atkinson put the Rangers on board off a 28th-minute free kick from an ugly Clarence foul.
The captain nailed the shot that dripped low past the three-man wall to sneak under the goalkeeper’s guard.
But the visitors struck back soon after when his club’s top goalscorer Nick Naden added his fifth for the year off a perfectly-timed cross from striker Jake Stuart.
Tempers flared late in the clash with Clarence’s Paul Bremner and Rangers’ Jesse Fulton both being shown yellow cards, while Zac Cross and Naden exchanged words just minutes from full-time.
Rangers ended the game with six effective shots on compared to three, but the home side’s efficiency was not enough to break down a stubborn Clarence defence.
The result would also hurt knowing that earlier in the day an out-of-form Hobart Zebras couldn’t finish off lowly Kingborough Lions in a final 1-1 draw.