STRATFORD Town were indebted to goalkeeper Liam O’Brien after the Bards stopper made a number saves in their 1-1 opening day draw at home to Bedford Town.
The Bards led through Josh Hawker’s first-half strike only to be pegged back late on in the Southern League Premier Central clash at Arden Garages Stadium.
The refurbished ground with two new stands and a fanzone was the perfect setting for the opening game of the 2022/23 season.
However, the home side were on the back foot early on with O’Brien forced to twice keep out Sam Warburton before then tipping behind Connor Tomlinson’s curling effort.
The Bards took the lead on 26 minutes, against the run of play, when Hawker picked up a loose ball in midfield before charging through on goal and finding the net.
Dean Holdsworth’s side looked to add to their lead in the second period as Curvin Ellis had an effort batted away by Bedford keeper Alex Street before Will Grocott’s header was cleared off the line.
The visitors remained a threat at the other end and O’Brien made a wonder save to keep Stratford ahead as he somehow kept out Will Summerfield’s powerful drive.
However, the Bards keeper was unable to deny Summerfield a second time as the substitute levelled on 87 minutes when he scrambled the ball home with Stratford unable to clear their lines.
Stratford are next in action away at St Ives Town on Saturday, August 13 with kick-off at 3pm at Westwood Road.