Barrow 3-3 Gateshead
Gateshead led three times at Barrow, hit the woodwork three times and played superbly - but had to settle for a point in a six goal Christmas cracker.
Barrow, at Sunderland in the FA Cup next weekend, were torn apart at the back and were fortunate not to slip to what would have been only their second defeat in 18 games.
Gateshead had twice as many attempts at goal as their hosts, won the corner count 8-3 and officially had 60% possession in a Boxing Day encouter that attracted a 1,727 crowd to Holker Street.
Gateshead's away following was disappointing for the festive fixture but those that made the trip across country were rewarded with a maginificent display that should have brought all three points.
That it didn't was down to errors at the back and the woodwork, while Darren Williams and new boy Jon Shaw almost won it late on.
"It was a great game of football and the only disappointment is that we didn't get the win we deserved," said manager Ian Bogie.
"It is the second time we have scored three goals away from home and not come away with a win and that is down to individual errors.
"It was an excellent away performance but every time we scored we let Barrow back in and that eventually denied us the win.
"We did well both individually and collectively. Clare and Shaw were excellent up front and Neale McDermott was outstanding on the right.
"He has had to be very patient but he scored a fantastic goal in the 2nd minute and if he can reproduce this form on a regular basis he will solve a massive problem.
"The performance was as good as we've produced this season and should give us the platform to kick on in the New Year."
The Holker Street thriller began in sensational fashion with two goals in the opening four minutes, the Tynesiders having gone close in the first minute through Kris Gate
With Barrow caught short at the back Shaw, starting for the first time, and McDermott, making only his second start, exchanged passes twice for McDermott to chip Stuart Tomlinson from outside the box.
The lead lasted only two minutes when former Gateshead loanee Craig Nelthorpe's corner was half cleared and Marc Goodfellow cut past Mark Robinson to curl a fine shot into the top corner from the edge of the box.
Gateshead created the better chances throughout with McDermott having a great opening to restore the lead from Gate's pass.
Andy Bond then almost put through his own goal before the midfielder tested Paul Farman with a shot from outside the box.
James Curtis then missed another clear opening from a Mark Robinson free kick before Clare headed a Baxter cross over the bar.
Not to be denied Clare was on hand to give Gateshead a deserved interval lead after good work from McDermott saw Gate's original shot blocked by Tomlinson.
Once again the lead was short-lived as Goodfellow's first time through ball from Jason Walker's chest down saw Bond race clear to find the net.
Baxter immediately hit the inside of the home post with an angled drive and then thundered a 30 yard shot against the upright.
Clare restored Gateshead's lead when Baxter and McDermott combined again for the latters cross to come back off the bar where the predatory Clare was ready to pounce.
Barrow had replied within ten minutes of Gateshead's first two goals and seven minutes later it was 3-3 when Chris Swailes failed to react to an indecisive Craig Nelthorpe header and Greg Blundell pounced.
Six goals had been scored in an hour at a rate of one every ten minutes with four of the goals coming from loan players.
It was Gateshead however who finished the stronger as Barrow hung on grimly for a point.
Shaw missed a great chance to bury his former club following a drag back from Gate, while a McDermott corner saw Williams' 86th minute header cleared off the line.
Barrow's leading scorer Walker headed wide from distance in a rare home attack while Gateshead sub Steven Richardson had a shot saved by the post.
Gateshead had been denied a third Conference away win but had produced a display that suggests the fight against relegation will be won.
Gateshead: Farman, Baxter, Robinson, Gate, Curtis, Swailes, Williams, McDermott, Shaw, Clare (Richardson 83), Phillips
Subs: (not used) Provett (gk), Turnbull, Armstrong, Cave
Goals: McDermott (2), Clare (42,54)
Booking: Gate (40)
Referee: R Metcalfe (Lancashire)