Nathan Arnold’s stunning second half strike looked to have sent the Mariners on their way to another three points but they could not turn their superiority into goals, instead inviting the home side into the game, and they were suitably punished by Leather’s late goal.
Indeed the Robins could have sneaked the victory themselves in a frenetic injury time period that saw full back Shaun Densmore clip the roof of the net with a 20-yard free kick.
Mariners’ boss Paul Hurst was relieved to be able to name defender Carl Magnay in his starting line-up – the former Chelsea youngster having limped out of Tuesday’s win over Halifax with a knee injury.
Otherwise it was as you were for the Conference’s in-form side and they soon found their stride with Arnold testing home stopper Stuart Coburn with a shot from just outside the area following Lenell John-Lewis’ knockdown.
But the biggest talking point of the half was coming in the terrace behind Coburn’s goal, as flares emanated from the 717-strong away following – eventually halting play, much to the chagrin of the majority of that travelling support , as the Mariners were looking to mount an attack.
Shaun Pearson flashed a header just over from an Arnold centre and then Coburn did well to hold onto Scott Neilson’s dipping effort as the away side continued to press.
But the game remained at a stalemate as the half-time whistle blew and it was not until the 59th-minute introduction of Scott Brown and Craig Clay for the ineffective midfield duo of Harry Pell and Craig Disley that the Mariners began to up the tempo.
Within a minute of that double substitution, the visitors were unlucky not to have taken the lead. Danny Parslow clipped in a perfect cross for John-Lewis to power home a header but the Mariners’ top scorer was harshly ruled to be offside by the assistant referee.
The best move of the game came on 64 minutes. Brown threaded a nice ball through for Neilson, who took it to the byline and pulled it back for Arnold. The winger was off balance but managed to get a left foot to the ball; it looked to be heading to the top corner but Coburn somehow got across to palm the effort over the crossbar.
Arnold did find the net three minutes later though and it came in emphatic fashion. The former Mansfield man picked up a loose ball in midfield, looked up and picked his spot with an arrowing 30-yard drive into the far corner of Coburn’s goal. It was no more than the Mariners deserved and their vocal following were expecting their favourites to push on and put the game to bed.
But that never materialised. Instead Hurst’s side dropped deep onto the edge of their own 18-yard box and this gave the Robins renewed hope of snatching a point.
Densmore tried to catch visiting goalkeeper James McKeown unaware with a 30-yard free kick but the defender could only find the side netting.
As the game approached the final minute, the Robins were still pressing through a series of set pieces. And they were rewarded with Leather’s 90th-minute equaliser.
Parslow didn’t get enough purchase on a clearance and that allowed Ryan Crowther to advance. The former Liverpool youngster side-stepped the challenge of Brown and whipped in a delightful cross. Leather stole a march on Toto Nsiala and flicked the ball into the corner beyond McKeown.
Still there was time for more drama, with both sides nearly snatching it in injury time. Magnay linked up well to send final Town substitute Jack Mackreth clear inside the six-yard box but his touch was heavy and that allowed Coburn to come out and claim the ball.
The Mariners then got themselves in a tangle from the goal kick. Nsiala and Pearson allowed the long ball to bounce and the former ended up fouling big Kyle Perry in the Altrincham attack.
Former Lincoln man Perry took the free kick quickly and released Damian Reeves but he was crudely upended by Nsiala as he bore down on goal – the Mariners’ defender escaping with a yellow card.
Densmore got the free kick up and over the wall but the only rippling of the net came from the ball caressing the top of the goal on its way out of play, as referee Mr Rushton blew the final whistle.
Robins: Coburn; Densmore, Cavanagh, Havern, Leather, Griffin; Moult (Crowther), Richman, Lawrie (Williams); Gillespie (Reeves), Perry. Subs not used: Parton, Marshall.
Mariners: McKeown; Magnay, Thomas, Nsiala, Pearson; Parslow, Disley (Brown), Pell (Clay); Arnold, Neilson (Mackreth); John-Lewis. Subs not used: Pittman, Hannah.