In a pulsating match at a sun drenched, St James Park, Brackley and Harrogate fought out an exciting draw.
Prior to the kick off,Dan Clayton passed a late fitness test, but in the event he had to be subbed by Dominic Rowe after 22 minutes. Leigh Franks also made a welcome return from a long term injury and was given a place on the subs bench.
The game was only ninety seconds old when Adam Nowakowski’s 30 yard blockbuster,nestled in the top corner,leaving home keeper,Billy Turley, helpless to intervene.
Brackley soon recovered their composure, and on nine minutes, Steve Diggin expertly brought down a long clearance and provided a pinpoint centre for Stefan Moore to head past Craig MacGillivray.
Two minutes later, Diggin squandered a good chance to make it two when he broke through on the right but lashed his shot across goal.
Dominic Langdon shot over when well placed and MacGillivray saved twice in quick succession from Glenn Walker as the “Saints” pressed, but it was Harrogate who were next on the scoresheet.
Ashley Worsfold almost scored from a tight angle after rounding Turley, who came out for a loose ball.But on 33 minutes sub, Dom Rowe, shot through a crowded area to give Harrogate a half time lead.
Harrogate made a bright start to the second half, with Rowe’s run down the left only ended by a desperate interception.
Seconds later,Matt Heath squared a Steve Mallory free kick across goal, only for Nowakowski to blaze narrowly wide.
Brackley capitalised on their let off, when on the hour, Brett Solkhon picked up MacGillivray’s
punch out from Diggin’s cross, and shot home from ten yards.
MacGillivray had to turn shots from Diggin and Walker for corners as Brackley strove for a winner.
Anton Brown and Joe Ironside replaced Worsfold and Mallory for the final quarter of an hour.
The move almost paid off when the impressive Nowakowski found Dave Merris on the left, but Brown headed his centre over the bar.
Both sides had late chances,with Heath clearing from Dave Bridges and Craig Nelthorpe having a shot cleared off the line.
However, the battle of the “Towns”ended in an honourable draw.
1MacGillivray, 2 Samuels ,3 Merris, 4 Nelthorpe, 5 Heath, 6 Killock (c), 7 Mallory (Brown 74), 8 Nowakowski, 9 Hall, 10 Worsfold (Ironside 74), 11 Clayton (Rowe 22).
Unused subs,15 Bolder, 17 Franks, Bookings Nelthorpe, Worsfold
Scorers Nowakowski 2 mins, Rowe 33. Att 293
By John Harrison