CHIPPENHAM Town manager Mark Collier was handed a timely confidence boost as his side claimed a well-deserved 2-2 draw against National League South leaders Dartford at Hardenhuish Park on Saturday.

The Bluebirds started the brighter of the two teams as Jake Jackson and Andy Sandell both went close to breaking the deadlock in the opening exchanges.

As the half progressed, the table-topping Darts began to establish a sense of control but were unable to convert their momentum into an advantage on the scoreboard.

Just after the half-hour mark, Chippenham should have got themselves in front but Nick McCootie blazed over from two yards out after Jackson’s looping header crashed against the bar.

Moments later, the Bluebirds were hit by a sucker-punch as the visitors broke the deadlock from a corner. After Jared Thompson’s initial save, Chippenham failed to clear their lines and that allowed Alfie Pavey to poke home in the 39th minute - a lead Dartford held until the break.

The home side rallied, though, and it did not take them long to get back on level terms after the change of ends. James Guthrie’s whipped ball in was met by the head of Dean Evans, who could hardly miss from such close range.

However, the visitors were pegged back once again when Pavey was left unmarked at the back post to nod the league leaders ahead for the second time in the game.

Despite the blow, Collier’s troops continued to push and were rewarded for their endeavour as McCootie’s scruffy finish midway through the second period earned them a hard-earned point.

Manager Collier said: “It’s a great point, although overall, I’m a little bit disappointed that we didn’t get all three because our all-round game was outstanding.

“I would like to see the stats on how many shots were blocked because I thought our play was outstanding.

“We started the first half well. We know they’re a good side because the league table doesn’t lie and we were disappointed to concede.

“If the game lasted much longer, we would have won it. How we came in at half-time not in front, or even level, I don’t know.

“We have gone toe to toe with the top two teams in the league over the last fortnight and got vital points, so it is credit to the players.”

Swindon Town striker Scott Twine was at the weekend’s game as a spectator, although Collier says the club are no closer to tying the youngster down to another loan deal.

Former loanee Jake Andrew is also on Collier’s wanted list but the Bluebirds boss insists the future of both players remains out of his hands.

“Nick McCootie has come in and helped us in the last few weeks - and so has Jake Jackson - but we aren’t really any closer with Scott Twine,” said Collier.

“We would like to get him and Jake Andrews back in. Scott was here watching the game and he would like to come back.

“Obviously, he is Swindon Town’s player so we are in their hands. It’s up to the powers that be.”