Byrne opens his account to earn Saints another point

Brackley Town's Steve Diggin is beaten to the ball by Darlington 1883 keeper Paul Woolstan
Brackley Town's Steve Diggin is beaten to the ball by Darlington 1883 keeper Paul Woolstan
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Shane Byrne’s first goal for Brackley Town earned his side a point in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Darlington 1883.

Both sides could have won a well contested game that was a fine advert for Vanarama National League North football. In the end a point apiece was a fair outcome in a first ever competitive match between Saints and phoenix club Darlington.

Stefan Moore started on his return to St James Park where the visitors began well and Mark Beck got his head to a deep cross but could only direct his header over. Saints struck the bar as Glenn Walker’s free-kick forced a miscued defensive clearance.

But Stephen Thompson gave Darlington a 25th minute lead, his stunning shot from all of 25 yards gave keeper Laurie Walker no chance. Saints were immediately on the attack and a lovely move saw Jimmy Armson slide his shot just the wrong side of the post.

Both sides had chances to add to the score as Thompson scuffed his shot while Steve Diggin’s effort was wide under pressure from an excellent Glenn Walker delivery.

But the home side equalised a minute before the break when captain Gareth Dean bundled the ball over the line from Walker’s corner for his third goal of the season.

Saints were denied a halftime lead in quick succession by Paul Woolstan’s fine save from Diggin’s header and then by a goal-line clearance in added-time from Dean’s header after another corner.

The Quakers went ahead again in the 57th minute through Josh Gillies’ superbly struck free-kick. But Saints hit back in the 74th minute when Byrne scored with a delightfully flighted header that looped beyond Woolstan’s despairing dive after good work by Ellis Myles.

In the closing stages both sides sought the winner, neither sitting back. Armson could not convert a fine chance for Saints while Josh Falkingham delayed his shot when well placed allowing Dean to block.