Hereford came away from Christie Park with mixed feelings about Saturday's Nationwide Conference draw.

After as poor a first half display as they have produced all season, they could easily have been looking at a deficit of three, or even four, goals at the interval.

But, after substitute Steve Piearce had given them a 74th-minute lead, they also must have felt that all three points were there for the taking, only for home substitute Mark Quayle to mark his home debut with a headed equaliser four minutes later.

Hereford's disappointment was hardly eased by an injury to centre-back Tony James who went down in agony with a recurrence of his hamstring injury as he chased a through ball with home striker Julian Dowe after only 16 minutes.

James, one of United's most accomplished performers this season, now seems likely to be on the sidelines for up to a month, missing the vital Christmas and New Year programme.

James was one of two changes to United's starting line-up after the previous week's draw against Boston, resuming his position at the heart of the defence at the expense of James Wall.

Matt Clarke also returned to the side, preferred to Ian Rodgerson on the right-hand side of midfield after a goal-scoring appearance against Boston.

Clarke's first contribution to the game, after three minutes, was not one he will remember with much pleasure, however, as he was adjudged to have pushed Ryan-Zico Black as both challenged for a Garry Thompson cross and a penalty was awarded.

But Morecambe must be the only side in the Conference to rival Hereford's ineptitude from the penalty spot and Stuart Drummond fired wide, despite sending Scott Cooksey the wrong way. This was Morecam-be's third successive penalty miss.

Drummond, John Nor-man, twice, and Dowe all failed with great chances as Hereford were more or less overrun in the first 45 minutes.

Hopes were raised that things might be better in the second half when Ian Wright headed a Gavin Williams free-kick narrowly over in the opening seconds, but United were largely on the back foot until Piearce's wonderful strike.

Rob Elmes laid a perfectly weighted through ball into the substitute's path and, showing excellent vision and composure, Piearce struck a superbly-judged chip over keeper Mark Smith and into the net.

Shortly before this, Chris Lane had done well to clear acrobatically off the line when a Thompson cross caused consternation and, almost immediately after the goal, there was another let-off for Hereford when Michael Knowles struck a post from close range.

But just as the travelling Hereford fans were beginning to contemplate the possibility of three points, Cooksey failed to gather a Knowles cross and Quayle headed in from four yards to level the scores.

Hereford: Cooksey, Lane, Sturgess, Robinson, Wright, James (Gardiner 16 mins), Clarke, Snape, Elmes, Williams (Piearce 72 mins), McIndoe. Subs not used: Baker, Rodgerson, Giddings.

Morecambe: Smith, Fensome, Perkins, McKearney, Hardiker, Walters, Thompson, Drummond, Dowe (Quayle 60 mins), Norman (Rigoglioso 66 mins), Black (Knowles 70 mins). Subs not used: McGuire, McIlhargey.

Referee: A McGee (Liverpool).

Attendance: 1,125.