The National League North’s top two sides could not be separated on Saturday afternoon as a well-balanced 1-1 draw was played out at The CNG Stadium.
Two goals in the opening ten minutes, courtesy of Aaron Williams and Joe Leesley, suggested supporters were in for a classic, though both sides’ defences shone for the remainder of the game to ensure the teams’ records remain identical.
Simon Weaver made one change from bank Holiday Monday’s 1-0 win at Blyth Spartans as Jack Vann made his first start for the club in place injured top scorer Simon Ainge; Friday’s loan signing Noel Burdett was named on the bench.
Brackley took just three minutes to take the lead as Lee Ndlovu lost his marker at the left by-line and tried to beat James Belshaw at his near post, only for the ‘keeper’s save to fall into the path of Williams for an easy finish.
The hosts soon responded though as Jordan Thewlis’ finish bounced back off the cross bar, only for George Thomson to collect possession and pull back for Leesley to sneak in the equaliser at the near post.
With the visiting defence having only conceded twice all season, and Harrogate keeping back to back clean sheets the early goals came as a surprise, though Shane Byrne and Thomson could not add to the score line as their respective shots ended off target.
With half an hour gone, Josh Falkingham was beginning to stamp his authority on the contest and saw his right footed shot from 25 yards saved by Danny Lewis.
The visitors were dealt a blow ten minutes before half time as leading scorer James Armson pulled up with what looked like a hamstring injury as was swiftly replaced.
The lively Ndlovu was almost given the chance to give his side the lead before the interval, but fired over after a clearance fell to the striker’s feet.
Seven minutes into the second half it was the visitors’ turn to strike the goal frame as low cross resulted in Terry Kennedy diverting the ball against his own post.
Moments before the hour mark, Kennedy almost made his mark in the opposition box, but headed Thomson’s free kick over after outmuscling his marker.
Harrogate created another chance ten minutes later as Ryan Fallowfield’s low cross was teed up for Thomson by Thewlis, but the former FC United of Manchester man could not keep his shot down.
The home side enjoyed plenty of possession in the final quarter of an hour, though Brackley’s defensive unit stood firm and limited Weaver’s side to few sights of goal.
Harrogate Town: Belshaw, Fallowfield, Parker, Falkingham, Kennedy, Burrell, Thomson, Emmett, Vann (O’Hanlon 73), Thewlis, Leesley
Subs not used: Cracknell, Middleton, Day, Burdett
Goals: Leesley 9
Brackley: Lewis, Myles, Gudger, S Byrne, Graham, Dean, G Walker, Armson (J Byrne 35), Williams (Lowe 82), Ndlovu (Brown 90), A Walker
Subs not used: Tilney, Franklin
Goals: Williams 3
Booked: A Walker, Dean
Referee: A Jackson