Oadby Town took another step towards securing their place in the United Counties League Premier Division with a well-battled 3-3 draw at home to Northampton Sileby Rangers.
Town, admittedly against the run of play, led 2-0 at half-time with two goals late in the half from Carlton Beardmore and then Harry Alcock but Rangers fought back after the break and brought themselves level through Michael Byrne and Brian Farrell.
Substitute winger Nuno Gomes restored the hosts’ advantage with 10 minutes remaining but just a minute later, Sileby Rangers’ forward Andrew Hall equalised once more from the penalty spot.
In truth, it was a fantastic result for Oadby, who created no more than a handful of clear-cut chances, but had young goalkeeper Sam Lomax to thank for claiming a point.
With clear blue skies and the Freeway Park pitch in good condition, it was the perfect afternoon for some non-league football.
Oadby Town went into the game knowing a win would virtually guarantee safety in the United Counties League Premier Division, whilst Northampton Sileby Rangers were sitting comfortably in sixth position.
Rangers started the game well, creating a host of early chances, but Michael Byrne and Andrew Hall failed to truly threaten Sam Lomax in the Oadby net.
Oadby’s first chances in the game came in quick succession; with 25 minutes played, captain Callum Steer worked some space on the edge of the area before his low drive was spilled by Sileby ‘keeper James Goff.
Moments later, Beardmore broke through but his shot was dragged across the face of goal but Rangers felt aggrieved when Farrell and Jack Toone tussled, before the former wrestled free and saw his shot well saved by young Lomax.
The home side then took the lead from the penalty spot with 38 minutes played; after Jacob Gill played the ball on towards Beardmore, the Poachers’ striker tried to round Goff but was clearly brought down by the Rangers’ goalkeeper.
Beardmore, though, picked himself up and slotted the ball past Goff, who was unfortunate not to make the save after getting his fingertips to the low shot.
Just five minutes later, Oadby doubled their lead as Harry Alcock was slipped in behind the Rangers back line, got himself goal-side of the defender and finished confidently as Oadby went in at the break with the wind in their sails.
However, with just 80 seconds of the second half played, the visitors were right back into the game as Michael Byrne latched onto the end of a through ball and slipped the ball beyond the onrushing Lomax, rolling agonisingly into the vacant goal.
Oadby struggled to reclaim their grip on the game in the quarter of an hour that followed; Lomax did well to make two strong saves, denying Hall and then Luke Stevens, before Farrell flashed wide with an hour gone.
Northampton Sileby Rangers were again appealing for a penalty, but once more Burston was having none of it, then Mark Forbes’ free-kick found captain Stuart Macmichael at the back post, who had drifted around the back, but he somehow failed to turn the ball in.
Rangers’ pressure paid off in the 66th minute, though, as a great lofted ball over the top found Farrell with too much space down the left channel and he made no mistake as he fired in to level the match up at 2-2.
Another good block by Lomax to deny Hall was followed by one of the key moments in the game: the substitution of Nuno Gomes in place of goalscorer Beardmore.
Gomes’ electrifying pace and composure on the ball provided the Poachers with a new spark of life when it was needed most and after just two minutes on the field, Gomes put the hosts back in front.
A low cross from the left caused confusion in the Sileby penalty area, with the goalkeeper and defender having a mix up and the ball bouncing off the shin of Gomes to be bundled home; not one that will be up for goal of the season, that’s for sure!
But just a minute later, Oadby were pegged back once more; the ball fell to Stevens in the box and he was fouled by a sliding Oadby defender: a clear penalty after Rangers’ numerous appeals.
Hall stepped up and fired the ball ferociously into the bottom corner, powering past the diving Lomax who was close to saving the venomous strike.
Yet another penalty appeal for Sileby was turned down by the referee late on, before Hall had a golden chance to win the game for the visitors but his volley sailed high over the crossbar in injury time.
Overall, Northampton Sileby Rangers will be disappointed on their journey back south, left to rue their host of clear opportunities to get the three points.
For Oadby, it is another point in the right direction as they scored their seventh goal in two games and now are just one win away from securing their status in the league.
They will be thankful to goalkeeper Lomax for his fine performance between the sticks and to the Sileby forwards who squandered chance after chance in a highly-entertaining affair.
Man of the match: Sam Lomax