Just when St John’s United saw their form drop off after a successful first half of the season, the Saints have got back on track.

The turnaround started two weekends ago with a 6-2 win over Onchan in the FA Cup, before grinding out a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Canada Life Premier League leaders Peel on Saturday.

The Douglas Road side, despite dropping points, still remain top of the table. They were last beaten in September (their only defeat of the campaign to date), but this latest fixture came at a cost with leader scorer Rhys Oates withdrawing through injury around the hour mark.

As both teams looked in settle into their footballing groove, Peel created the first opportunity on 11 minutes when Tomas Brown’s shot was timely intercepted by defender Nathan Kelly who deflected it wide. From the resulting corner, Joe Quayle sliced his shot wide.

St John’s started to make their contribution to the match and went close when Callum Taggart was put through but drove his shot over the crossbar. Taggart did find the net moments later but was flagged offside.

At the other end of the pitch, Scott Horne drove a low angled shot that was smothered by goalkeeper Jamie Moffatt.

On 23 minutes, Peel took the lead after one of their players was clattered to the floor and referee Anthony Page pointed to the penalty spot. Oates coolly dispatched his spot-kick into the net for 1-0.

Peel went close again when Brown volleyed a knock down straight at the goalkeeper. But with 42 minutes on the clock, St John’s drew level. Kieran Cawte’s throw-in was flicked on and Brandon Forrester-McElevey swept his effort into the bottom right to make it 1-1.

After the break, Oates was his usual lively self and went close when his free-kick bent around the wall, only to be denied by a superb Moffatt save. Oates then went close again after he was put clear, only for Will Penhallurick to produce a timely, last-ditch tackle.

St John’s had their own chances to take the lead: Harry Rothwell was put clear only for his effort to go narrowly wide, before the same player again went close with a long-range effort that sailed just off-target.

Deep into six minutes of added time, Peel could have clinched all three points when Horne’s cross picked out Brown, only to head narrowly wide (much to the relief of his dad watching from the St John’s dugout).

As such, the spoils were shared once the final whistle had blown in this western derby.