Swindon Town came from behind to earn a draw against Tranmere Rovers and extend their unbeaten run at home, on a day they may have feel they could have snatched a win.
Forward Jacob Wakeling ended a lengthy run without a goal by grabbing the equaliser after Josh Hawkes had given the visitors the lead after just nine minutes.
First-Team Head Coach, Scott Lindsey, rang the changes from last weekend’s FA Cup disappointment at Stockport, with Louis Reed and Mathieu Baudry dropping to the bench in place of captain Ben Gladwin and Cian Harries, with the latter making a rare start.
Welsh ace Jonny Williams was left out altogether following his call-up to the Wales squad for the World Cup later this month.
Onto the action, and after a slow opening seven minutes, the game burst into life in the space of two, but unfortunately for Town, it was the visitors who took the early initiative.
Rovers striker Kane Hemmings issued a warning to the Swindon defence on eight minutes, as he picked the ball up inside the area before shifting it onto his right foot and drilling one low at Sol Brynn, but the Town stopper held it well.
However, just sixty seconds later, Micky Mellon’s side took the lead, as Josh Hawkes was played through on goal by Chris Merrie, and he confidently put the ball past Brynn and into the bottom left-hand corner for one-nil.
Swindon were finding it difficult to threaten the Tranmere goal, and could have gone two down on 21-minutes but for a great last ditch sliding challenge from Cian Harries.
Kieron Morris took a good touch just outside the area to create space for himself inside it, but his attempted shot on goal was fantastically blocked by the stand-in centre back.
On 27-minutes, Tranmere tried their luck again to extend their narrow advantage, as good build-up play resulted in Josh Dacres-Cogley spreading it across the box to Chris Merrie, but he could only fire high and wide of the target.
The tempo of the game then turned quickly in Town’s favour, as Ronan Darcy created their first clear-cut chance on 27-minutes, driving powerfully at goal from a tight angle inside the area, forcing Rovers keeper Ross Doohan to make a good save to parry it away.
Then the equaliser. As has been so often the case this season, great work from Remeao Hutton on the right side saw the ace make another darting run into the area, and his pinpoint low ball across goal was missed by everyone apart from Jacob Wakeling, who was on hand to tap home from close range.
And on 35-minutes, Scott Lindsey’s side game within inches of taking the lead, as Ben Gladwin swung in a dangerous free-kick from around 20-yards out that was narrowly missed by Frazer Blake-Tracy at the far post, when all it might have needed was some sort of a connection.
All square at the interval with the game hanging in the balance.
Town were out of the traps quickly in the second period, moving the ball well in a bid to get an early foothold in the tie, although it was Rovers’ Kane Hemmings who looked to give his side the lead for the second time in the game on 50-minutes.
The forward produced a powerful run from midfield using his strength to fend off Ciaran Brennan, but he could only shoot over from a narrow angle which failed to trouble Sol Brynn.
Just before the hour mark, Town midfielder Saidou Khan went close, as he received the ball from Ben Gladwin on the right and was able to set himself before striking one low at goal.
Fortunately for the diving Ross Doohan, the ball skidded narrowly wide of his right hand post.
Chances on goal were at a premium for the fifteen minutes that followed as the two sides cancelled each other and looked to find a way through.
Marcel Lavinier replaced Ellis Iandolo on 75-minutes as Scott Lindsey looked to freshen up his pack.
The next effort on goal finally arrived on 80-minutes, as Elliott Nevitt outmuscled Saidou Khan in the centre and drove towards goal unchallenged, but he got is effort all wrong and skied it high over the bar.
On 78-minutes, Town thought they’d found the breakthrough, as Jacob Wakeling brought down a clever pass inside the box and converted low past Doohan, but he was flagged offside by the linesman, much to the annoyance of the home faithful.
A double change followed by Lindsey, as Louis Reed and Morgan Roberts entered the field in place of Saidou Khan and Jacob Wakeling, and it was Reed that made an immediate impact.
He struck a powerful free-kick from around 15-yards out that dipped over the wall and looked to be heading in, only for Ross Doohan to make a fantastic save diving to his right.
Three minutes of stoppage time were ordered by referee Lee Swabey as we reached the ninety, and Rovers could and probably should have taken the lead, as Kane Hemmings was found unmarked in the box after a good Rovers counter attack, but he got his effort all wrong with just Brynn to beat and the Town keeper gathered with ease.
A minute later, a Frazer Blake-Tracy header from a corner was somehow diverted over the bar by a Rovers defender, before the Micky Mellon’s side were reduced to ten men late on as Jordan Turnbull was shown a straight red card for a foul on Frazer Blake-Tracy in a dangerous area.
From the resulting free kick on the right side, Ben Gladwin forced Ross Doohan into an acrobatic diving save to push the ball away from under his bar and out to safety, and Tranmere held on for the remaining seconds to earn the draw, which although might not have been the result Town wanted, extends their unbeaten run at home to four games and keeps them sixth in the table.
Swindon Town Line-up:
1. Sol Brynn (GK) – 26. Cian Harries, 34. Ciaran Brennan, 20. Frazer Blake-Tracy, 2. Remeao Hutton, 10. Ronan Darcy, 7. Ben Gladwin ©, 23. Saidou Khan (5. Louis Reed 82mins), 3. Ellis Iandolo (22. Marcel Lavinier 74mins), 24.. Jacob Wakeling (33. Morgan Roberts 83mins), 15. Luke Jephcott.
Subs not used: 41. Jack Copland (GK) – 6. Mathieu Baudry, 17. Ricky Aguiar, 9. Tomi Adeloye.
Scorers: Wakeling 30
Yellow Cards: None
Red Cards: None
Tranmere Rovers Line-up:
Subs not used:
1. Ross Doohan (GK) – 26. Dynel Simeu, 2. Josh Dacres-Cogley, 14. Jordan Turnbull, 3. Ethan Bristow, 7. Kieron Morris (5. Tom Davies 90+3mins), 6. Chris Merrie, 11. Josh Hawkes (17. Rhys Hughes 86mins), 4. Lee O’Connor, 10. Kane Hemmings ©, 20. Elliott Nevitt (27. Jake Burton 83mins).
Subs not used: 23. Mateusz Hewelt (GK) – 18. Kyle Jameson, 19. Neill Byrne, 16. Jon Nolan.
Scorers: Hawkes 9
Yellow Cards: 14. Turnbull 34mins, 20. Nevitt 59mins, 26. Simeu 90mins.
Red Cards: 14. Turnbull 90+5mins
Referee: Lee Swabey
Assistant Referees: Damith Baranda & Scott Williams
Fourth Official: James Vallance
Attendance: 9,425 (317 away fans)