Swindon Town got the 2018/19 Sky Bet League Two campaign off to a winning start in the most dramatic of ways after beating Macclesfield 3-2 this afternoon at The Energy Check County Ground.
Michael Doughty scored a dramatic hat-trick on his third debut for the club as Town scored twice in stoppage time to secure their first three points of the new season.
It was all one-way traffic in the first-half with the Reds completely on top, although they were unable to make their dominance count before the break despite creating a glut of clear-cut chances.
Doughty capped his third coming with a goal to quickly cancel out Koby Arthur's strike a minute into the second-half, and he notched two penalties late on to turn the game on its head after Arthur had added a second for the guests.
There were debuts for five new signings with Michael Doughty, Martin Smith, Steven Alzate, Jermaine McGlashan and Elijah Adebayo all handed starts.
Fellow summer arrivals Luke McCormick, Jak McCourt and Toumani Diagouraga started the game from the bench, as did on-loan Millwall defender Sid Nelson who signed for the club on Thursday.
Town opted to line-up in a 4-3-3 formation with Olly Lancashire and Dion Conroy partnering each other at the heart of defence following their respective return from injuries, whilst Kyle Knoyle and Matty Taylor lined-up in the right and left-back roles respectively.
Doughty, Smith and Alzate formed a midfield three with Keshi Anderson and McGlashan slotting in either side of Adebayo in a three-pronged attack.
The air was full of excitement as the new season finally got underway at a sun-kissed SN1 with both sides looking to get off to the perfect start.
It was a positive opening for the Reds too as they sprayed the ball about nicely, although they had to survive an early scare after Danny Whittaker sent an effort wide from a corner.
Town were looking full of confidence going forward, however, and they were beginning to fire warning shots as Matty Taylor saw a long-range effort blocked following a smart passage of play.
Taylor went close again but this time from a set-piece after drilling a low free-kick into the danger zone with Rhys Taylor on hand to parry the shot away from danger.
That was followed by the best move of the game so far with Martin Smith driving towards goal before floating the ball up towards Elijah Adebayo, the striker nodded it down into the path of Michael Doughty who saw his effort kept out by Taylor.
There was soon action at the other end too with Lawrence Vigouroux getting down well to smother Whittaker's tame strike.
Town were looking the more dangerous of the two sides though and they created yet another opening with Taylor sending a wicked cross onto the crossbar.
The chances kept on coming and it was Adebayo's turn to threaten next, the on-loan Fulham man latching onto a long, searching ball from Dion Conroy before drawing another fine save from Taylor.
Adebayo was seeing plenty of the ball in the right areas but he just couldn't add a clinical touch after planting a header against the crossbar from Alzate's pinpoint cross.
Town were launching wave after wave of attack on the visiting goal but they couldn't make the breakthrough with Taylor producing another sublime save to somehow keep Doughty's close-range effort out.
However, for all of their first-half dominance the Reds found themselves a goal down straight after the interval.
A free-kick was taken quickly and slipped into Koby Arthur who kept his composure to slot home the opener into the bottom corner.
But Town soon shrugged off that set-back and it took less than a couple of minutes for them to restore parity with Doughty perfectly placed at the back post to head home from Kyle Knoyle's cross.
Cheers soon turned to groans, however, as Macclesfield wasted little time in restoring their lead thanks to Arthur, who punished a mistake from Vigouroux after lobbing the ball over the keeper's head and into the back of the net.
Town responded well to going a goal down again but their lack of a clinical touch in-front of goal continued to hurt them with Martin Smith only able to lash a shot high and wide.
Scott Twine then came on to replace Alzate in order to inject some fresh legs into the attack, but the same old problems continued to linger.
Vigouroux did well to deny former Town loanee Harry Smith before there was yet another chance at the other end.
Doughty did well to win back possession high up the pitch before feeding Adebayo who saw his drive kept out by Taylor.
Another free-kick presented Taylor with another chance to work his magic but his strike clipped the crossbar before going over as Town's frustrating afternoon continued.
Jak McCourt replaced Smith and the debutant could have made himself a hero but he could only fire over at the back post.
However, Town were handed a shot at redemption and they took it with both hands as the game exploded into a thrilling finale.
McCourt curled a shot against the crossbar and the rebound fell into the path of Adebayo, who was taken out with the referee eventually pointing to the spot following a lengthy delay.
Doughty stepped up to stroke home his second goal of the day despite Taylor getting a hand to the effort, and the drama wasn't done there.
With the wind firmly in their sails, Town launched one more attack and it paid off as Anderson was brought down inside the area with Doughty remaining the coolest person inside the stadium to hammer home the winner which sparked jubilant scenes at the final whistle.
TEAMS AND STATS:
SCORERS - Koby Arthur (46, 54), Michael Doughty (48, 90+6, 90+8).
SWINDON TOWN (4-3-3) - Vigouroux; Knoyle, Lancashire (C), Conroy, Taylor; Doughty, Alzate (Scott Twine 67), Smith (Jak McCourt 87); Anderson, Adebayo, McGlashan.
SUBS NOT USED - McCormick, Nelson, Romanski, Diagouraga, Iandolo.
MACCLESFIELD TOWN - Taylor, Hodgkiss (C), Fitzpatrick, Kelleher, Grimes, Marsh (Malachi Napa 81), Smith, Maycock, Arthur, Whittaker, Rose (Keith Lowe 87).
SUBS NOT USED - Wilson, Lloyd, Blissett, Welch-Hayes, Simpson.
SWINDON TOWN - Jermaine McGlashan, Olly Lancashire, Jak McCourt.
Referee - Robert Lewis.
Attendance - 7,024.