Darlington are still in with a good chance of progressing in the Worthington Cup after holding first division Nottingham Forest to a 2-2 draw at Feethams last night.

Quakers battled all the way and played some good football in the process and were denied their first win under Gary Bennett by a deflected goal in the second half.

Bennett said: "I thought we played some very good football and we didn't let out heads drop when Forest drew level twice. Overall we showed some very good movement and created some chances and to cut them up in the way that we did was very encouraging.''

Quakers, who sprang a surprise by including Dutch keeper Frank Van Der Geest, started well.

Young Gary Williamson did well to turn and fire at Dave Beasant and Craig Liddle glanced a header across the face of goal.

Quakers took the lead when Stuart Elliott's pass was intercepted by Chris Bart-Williams, but his back pass into his own box was intercepted by Williamson, who was upended by Tony Vaughan.

Elliott then scored his first professional goal from the spot by easily beating Beasant.

But five minutes later Forest levelled from another spot-kick. Gary Himsworth clearly tripped Vaughan and Bart Williams confidently stroked the ball past Van Der Geest.

Two minutes later Forest nearly took the lead when Stern John cleverly worked his way in the box but fired straight at Van Der Geest.

Quakers heads didn't drop and Elliott almost grabbed a second with a 30-yarder which flew just past the post and Beasant dived to his right to hold on to a powerful drive from Martin Gray.

However, Forest always looked dangerous and just before half-time one move ended with a six-yard shot from Marlon Harewood which Van Der Geest blocked with his right foot before Liddle stopped the follow-up from Gary Jones.

Quakers nearly regained the lead four minutes after half time. Paul Heckingbottom found the overlapping Gray with a quick free-kick on the left and his low cross was only inches away from the unmarked Williamson at the far post.

Williamson had a great chance a minute later when Vaughan played the ball straight to him on the edge of the Forest area and the youngster waltzed into the box but was denied his first senior goal by Beasant at the foot of his post.

Quakers were rewarded for their enterprise in the house when Jim Brennan missed a pass from Stuart Elliott allowing Himsworth to run into the area and put the ball back perfectly for Naylor, pushed up front when Jesper Hjorth went off, to sidefoot in.

But Forest hit back a minute later when David Prutton headed left-wing cross towards the bottom corner but Van Der Geest managed to push the ball away.

However Forest did level after 72 minutes. Alan Rogers was left unmarked on the left to pick up a pass from Bart-Williams, and his left-foot drive took a deflection off Neil Aspin and past Van Der Geest.

Seven minutes from the end the Quakers almost snatched a winner when Naylor opened up the Forest defence and set up Williams, but his effort rolled agonisingly wide