Barnstaple Town are off the mark in the Southern League Division One South after a 2-2 draw at home to Basingstoke Town.
Barum twice took the lead but were ultimately forced to share the points after the visitors – who played with 10 men for 55 minutes – pegged them back on both occasions.
Theo Ofori gave the hosts the lead after 15 minutes in a first half which saw Basingstoke’s Benjamin Jefford sent off a last-man foul before McKoy Palmer’s equaliser two minutes before the break.
Nathan Cooper gave Barum the lead again six minutes into the second half before Scott Armsworths’ glancing header levelled things up.
The Basingstoke defender equalised just a few minutes after Adam Seedhouse Evans saved a Bradley Wilson penalty.
With one point on the board, Barnstaple sit 18th in Division One South after three games.
The two teams spent all of the cancelled 2019/20 season jostling for position in a relegation battle, but they went into Saturday’s clash at different ends of the table, with Basingstoke having won their opening two games and Barum losing theirs.
Both keepers were called into action early on. Seedhouse Evans made a double save from George Hallahan as the Basingstoke forward fired toward goal and looked to follow up on the parried save. At the other end Tornado Bello drew a low save out of Julian Schwarzer after finding space in behind the Basingstoke defence.
Bello’s strike partner Ofori gave Barum the lead after 15 minutes. Eddie Ndi was the architect, driving to the byline and getting a ball into the box which deflected nicely for Ofori, who lashed a low effort into the back of the net.
Basingstoke responded well despite losing Hallahan to injury in the 20th minute. Palmer fired a powerful shot just over the bar and Wilson forced a save from Seedhouse Evans at the near post minutes later.
The visitors were then reduced to 10 men with 10 minutes of the half remaining. Ndi dispossessed Schwarzer outside of the area, only to be brought down by Jefford as he ran goalbound, forcing referee Rowan Clarke to reach for the red card.
Despite the blow, the visitors hauled themselves level two minutes before the break when Palmer cut inside from the left wing and sent a low right-footed shot beyond Seedhouse Evans at the near post.
Barum started the second half brightly and should have taken the lead after two minutes when Cooper, gifted a free header in the penalty area, failed to connect with the ball.
The Barum captain made amends four minutes later when he gave his side the lead again. Ofori battled to the byline and found Cooper unmarked in the middle of the penalty area for him to hit a low shot to the left of Schwarzer.
For all their good work, Barum gifted the visitors a way back into the game seven minutes later when new addition Daniel Neild brought down George Reid for a penalty.
Wilson stepped up to take the spot-kick and his powerful effort down the left was met by a diving Seedhouse Evans, who parried the effort safe with a strong left hand.
However, the lead only lasted another four minutes, with Armsworth glancing the visitors level with a well-taken header.
Barnstaple Town: Seedhouse Evans, Levien, D Roberts, Neild, Tomlinson, Fosu, Cooper, Ndi (C Roberts 72), Bello, Ofori, Rutty-Smith. Subs not used: Radford, Jones, Sloan, Larter.
Basingstoke Town: Schwarzer, Smith, Everiss, Hayden (Cliff 75), Armsworth, Jefford, Reid, Cook, Hallahan (Ive 20), Wilson, Palmer (Wollers 67). Subs not used: Snell, Cliff, Lemmon.