Vics returned to the Evo-Stik Premier Division summit, despite failing to score for the first time in the league campaign.
Andy Preece’s men played out a goalless draw at Victoria Park, but the point was sufficient enough to see us move back above FC Halifax Town thanks to a superior number of goals scored this term.
However, with The Shaymen level on points and goal difference – plus with a crucial game in hand – many will see today’s result as two points dropped rather than one gained.
Preece made two changes to the side which beat Lincoln United in the FA Trophy First Qualifying Round replay in midweek.
With Ollie Ryan suspended, John McAliskey returned to partner Andy Fowler in attack.
Meanwhile, Mark Peers – signed from Chester FC on Thursday evening – earned his full debut at the expense of Jonathan Crane, who dropped to the bench.
The first real chance of note fellow to the hosts seven minutes in, as midfielder Darren Brookfield curled in a 25 yard free-kick from the left hand side which James Spencer did well to smother with both hands.
At the other end Ashton Bayliss had to head clear Wayne Riley’s free-kick from the right corner, after Peers had been fouled as he looked to cross.
Peers tried his luck on the quarter hour with the host’s defence backing off, but he blazed his speculative effort high and wide after seeing Sean Lake off his line.
Paul Henry then went into the book, after earlier being cautioned for a shirt pull as The Linnets broke away, but the decision seemed harsh after he appeared to have won the ball in a sliding challenge.
Riley’s free-kick from the right after Fowler had been brought down midway through the first half should have yielded the game’s first goal, but David Thompson headed against the foot of the post with Lake rooted to his spot.
The Linnets’ top scorer Darren Byers then mishit his effort from outside the area moments later. The striker also sent a shot on the turn straight into the midriff of James Spencer approaching the half hour.
Jack Mackreth blazed wildly over from the right flank, when a cross would have been the better option, before Byers’ downward header from Mackreth’s flag kick late in the half was blocked by a body in front of goal.
Ben Jackson went into the book in first half injury time, after fouling Brookfield from behind. The resulting free-kick was poor and went out of play beyond the far post. It summed up the overall quality of the first period.
Early in the second half Fowler’s run opened up the host’s backline, but his through ball for Riley to his left was overhit and the ball ran through to Lake.
At the other end McCulloch fired over the bar, as both sides looked for the opener after the interval.
Riley’s inswinging corner caused problems for Lake after the midfielder had won the flag kick after bursting down the left. But the hosts cleared the danger.
In Vics’ next attack we should have taken the lead. Fowler cut inside from the left after McAliskey flicked on Adam Sumner’s long ball down the left for his strike partner.
Fowler played the ball across the 18 yard box for Peers, who beat his marker before sending a low centre right across the face of goal, which McAliskey was inches away from converting as he slid in at the far stick.
After Neil Sorvel had fouled Gary McEvatt just outside the area on the right, Mackreth curled in a free kick which almost dropped to a colleague at the far post, but Paul Henry did well to clear the danger.
Michael Connor came on for Henry midway through the second half, with Vics coming under increasing pressure from the hosts.
McEvatt then chipped just over the bar, with Spencer off his line following a defensive mix up, as the hosts continued to threaten.
Vics responded and the travelling fans behind the goal were aggrieved when McAliskey appeared to be pushed from behind as he shaped to convert Peers’ right wing cross.
The hosts then should have taken the lead, but Peter Moore took far too long to get his shot away at the far post and Spencer did well to get behind the midfielder’s shot.
Byers’ shot on the turn sailed high and wide as the hosts exerted more pressure in the Vics box.
Substitute Connor then found himself in space down the left, but he chose to cut inside and try to beat his man rather than playing a ball across the box for a colleague.
Fowler was then sent clear down the same flank moments later, but his centre was just out of reach of Connor who had made a late run towards the far post.
Another Vics break away was halted as Zac Riley brought down Peers on the edge of the box. Referee Tom Pinder had no hesitation in showing the midfielder a straight red card.
Riley’s resulting free-kick was straight into the body of centre half and skipper Connolly and David Thompson turned the loose ball over the bar.
The hosts retaliated and Spencer had to rush out of his goal to smother as Mackreth burst into the box after beating Sumner for pace.
Connor’s downward header at the far post from Thompson’s centre was then well taken by Lake.
Fowler then set up Riley, whose rising shot was just wide of the angle. It would have been a stunning and dramatic late winner after five minutes of added time had been awarded seconds earlier.
McAliskey somehow turned his header from Riley’s flag kick over the bar from inside the six-yard box as Vics went close again. But it was to be the last chance for either side.
Burscough: Lake (GK), Fields, Bayliss, McCulloch, Connolly (C), Z. Riley, Mackreth, Moore, Byers, McEvatt (Swales 77), Brookfield
Subs not used: Wilson, Smethurst, Quirk, Brabin (GK)
Booked: McCulloch (foul), Bayliss (ungentlemanly conduct)
Sent off: Z. Riley (foul)
Vics: Spencer (GK) (C), Jackson, Sumner (O’Brien 90), Thompson, Fodor, Sorvel, Riley, Henry (Connor 68), McAliskey, Fowler, Peers
Subs not used: Crane, Flowers, O’Brien, Preece
Booked: Henry (foul), McAliskey (dissent), Fowler (ungentlemanly conduct)
Referee: Tom Pinder (Lancaster)
Assistants: Robert Denton (red flag), Gavin Rice (yellow flag)