DAVENTRY Town’s first drawn game in the Central Division this season was a point gained rather than two dropped against high class opposition provided by revitalised AFC Hayes at Farm Park on Saturday.
Nathan Hicks’ fourth goal in eight games from midfield came as early as the 55th second. But fourth-placed Hayes came back strongly hitting the crossbar and a post, having a couple of shots cleared off the line and two penalty appeals turned down.
The almost inevitable equaliser came in the 79th minute from a shot by Oliver Duffy in a pulsating encounter which ebbed and flowed throughout the entire 90 minutes.
An early Daventry corner, taken by Josh O’Grady, was only partially cleared by the Hayes’ defence allowing Hicks to fire into the top corner of the net from 20 yards before many of the disappointing crowd of 78 had time to take their seats in the main stand.
The Town thought they had gone two up in the 20th minute when Stuart Hendrie headed home Nathan Demonte’s byline cross only for the referee to penalise the speedy frontrunner.
Visiting goalkeeper Joe Mellings then denied Ross Ahir with an excellent spreadeagling save before Hicks missed an open goal when taking his eye off the ball.
Manager Mark Kinsella (pictured) showed confidence in the team which had won 4-1 at Chertsey in midweek but Jason Lee, Claudiu Hoban and Chris Hannah were all used as second-half substitutes.
Matt Woods rattled the crossbar for the home team early on, another headed effort hit a post and the Town defence finally succumbed in the 79th minute when Duffy fired home a deserved equaliser.
Even then the drama was not over as the home fans felt Woods was tripped up inside the penalty area seconds after the equaliser. Not so said the referee and then Lewis Bishop denied Ahir with a stoppage-time goal-line clearance to preserve the Town’s point.
Hayes were probably the best Central Division footballing side the Town have met so far this season so a score-draw on top of recent away wins at Ashford and Chertsey was another step in the right direction for Mark Kinsella’s men.