JORDAN NICHOLSON’S late goal rescued meant Darlington avoided an embarrassing defeat at home to struggling Hereford, who had led 2-0.

The struggling Bulls looks set to claim their first win in 14 league matches when goals either side of half-time by Tom Owen-Evans put the visitors in the driving seat.

It was the first time they had scored twice in a league game since August, but Quakers showed some character to fight back.

Twice recently, against Leamington and Bradford (Park Avenue), Darlington have drawn 2-2 despite being 2-0 up, and goals by Dave Syers and Nicholson meant this time they reversed the scenario.

However, the fast start that Tommy Wright had wanted failed to materialise, as Hereford took the lead.

Owen-Evans’s first goal was a speculative effort on 15 minutes that slipped through the grasp of on-loan goalkeeper Zach Hemming, who was preferred to Jonny Maddison.

Darlington’s young team struggled to respond, their attacking play was laboured during what was not an entertaining afternoon, but they did open the visiting defence on a handful of occasions.

Stephen Thompson and Luke Trotman combined well on the right, and a cross by Thompson was heading for Harvey Saunders until Hereford centre-back Jordan Cullinane-Liburd headed away.

Liam Hughes headed over from a tight angle after a Joe Wheatley free-kick and Tom Elliott hit a well-struck shot straight at goalkeeper Matt Yates, but both sides missed sitters just before the break.

Hereford striker Mike Symons flicked over the bar when he had time to take a touch, while Quakers left-back Ben O’Hanlon missed a chance with the goal gaping after Trotman pulled the ball back.

It proved pivotal as just after the restart Owen-Evans made it 2-0, this time finishing high into the net after a pass from the right by Kieran Thomas.

But Quakers swiftly responded, Syers sweeping home his first goal of the season for 2-1.

Syers had been recalled as one of two changes, O’Hanlon being the other with Alex Henshall and Simon Ainge making way.

For the remainder of the half Darlington finally stepped up a gear, with Nicholson and Elliott at the centre of the action, while Joe Wheatley hit the bar with a free-kick before Ainge was sent on for Saunders in a change of approach.

With seven minutes to go came the leveller, Nicholson stabbing home from inside the area, his fifth goal of the season earning Wright’s side a point.

And they could even have won, but after a Thompson cross Ainge somehow missed the target with a close-range header.

While Darlington have now lost only once in their last nine league games, they have won only three of those contests and remain 14th in the table while Hereford are one place off the bottom.

Goals: Owen-Evans (15, 0-1), Owen-Evans (50, 0-2); Syers (53, 1-2), Nicholson (83, 2-2)

Bookings: Lloyd (30, foul), Thomas (64, foul), Roberts (66, time wasting); Thompson (87, foul)

Referee: Adam Williamson

Attendance: 1,427

Darlington (4-4-2): Hemming; Trotman, Hughes, Galbraith, O’Hanlon; Thompson, Elliott, Wheatley, Nicholson; Saunders (Ainge 73), Syers. Subs not used: Glover, Maddison, Henshall, Burn

Hereford (4-4-2): Yates; Thomas, Cullinane-Liburd, Smith, Greenslade; Lloyd (Finn 32), Owen-Evans, McGrath, Murphy (O’Sullivan 59); Roberts, Symons. Subs not used: Green, Horsell, Richards