MICHAEL Doughty’s strike two minutes from time gave Swindon Town a deserved equaliser as they held League Two leaders Lincoln City to a thrilling draw at the Energy Check County Ground on Saturday.

A dramatic 90 minutes that featured four goals, two red cards and a goal of the season contender gave Town boss Richie Wellens just an eighth point at home in his sixth league fixture at SN1.

Jason Shackell’s deflected volley had given Lincoln the lead with six first-half minutes to play before a wonder strike from Shay McCartan doubled the visitors’ lead in first-half stoppage time.

But when Keshi Anderson was brought down early on in the second half, Doughty dispatched the penalty to give Town hope before netting the equaliser just before the end.

Lincoln ended the game with nine men following a red card shown to Bruno Andrade for a stamp midway through the first period, while Shackell was shown a second yellow for dissent in the aftermath of the Town penalty.

The draw means Swindon are still in search of their first home win since December 8 as they remain 12th in the table on 37 points from 28 games.

Wellens made two changes from the side that started the dramatic 2-1 win over Macclesfield Town a week earlier – Matt Taylor and James Dunne were brought in for Scott Twine and Ellis Iandolo respectively as a more combative midfield option was preferred in Dunne, while Taylor brought experience and what Wellens would have hoped to be a vital edge in the set-piece department.

New signing Ben House will have to wait to ingratiate himself to the Swindon faithful as a dead leg that was picked up during the week meant he missed out altogether.

Town set up in a 4-4-2 formation, with Anderson and Jak McCourt as the wide men. Wellens opted to try and contain Lincoln, thus not allowing them the freedom they were afforded in the reverse fixture when they brushed Town aside in a 4-1 drubbing.

It certainly worked before Andrade’s sending off – Wellens feeling his side prevented their guests from breathing as they “pressed the life out of them”.

While Swindon began brightly, it was Shackell who had the game’s first effort. The ex-Derby County defender jumped well from a corner, however, the 35-year-old was unable to direct his header on target.

Minutes later, McCourt volleyed goalwards, but the ball was intercepted en route by Anderson before the reinvigorated midfielder attempted an acrobatic overhead volley at goal, forcing a good save from Imps keeper Josh Vickers.

Town settled well in the opening salvos and if not for better volleyed efforts from their midfielders, they may have gone ahead. First McCourt and then Dunne volleyed off-target for the home side.

Dunne then found the target with a fantastic left-footed volley from the edge of the box, forcing Vickers to spring to his left in order to swat the ball out of the top corner.

Ten minutes before the half-time whistle, the game sprung into life in the form of an unnecessary red card. Andrade was given his marching orders for the most petulant of stamps on Kyle Knoyle following a tangle of legs in front of the home dugout.

The Imps winger made a clear stamping motion down the back of the Town full-back’s calf and was deservedly sent off, leaving City with at least one less man for over an hour.

But for all of Town’s good work and spirit, five minutes before the break, Lincoln took the lead after a long hopeful free-kick was pumped into the Swindon box.

The initial ball was dealt with, but Shackell was left unmarked at the back post, giving him time to volley at an effort goalwards. If not for a sizable deflection off Taylor, Lawrence Vigouroux would have collected comfortably.

As it was, the ball squeezed in at the Town stopper’s near post and Swindon were once again left wondering how they had found themselves behind in a game that they had been on top in.

And in first-half stoppage time, things got even worse for the Robins. Lincoln’s McCartan produced an outrageous volley to double their lead.

Dion Conroy’s improvised clearance served as the perfect assist – McCartan simply walked on to the ball 25 yards out and lashed it underneath Vigouroux’s crossbar for a goal of the season contender.

Wellens was annoyed with his defender afterwards, insisting Conroy should have picked out a travelling fan with his clearance instead of taking a chance and ballooning the ball back into open play.

The home side began the second half brightly, though, with Taylor, McCourt and Doughty – who replaced Knoyle at the inverval – all having efforts at goal, but to no avail.

But after Anderson was brought down in the box – awarding Town an early second-half penalty – the scales tipped back towards Swindon thanks to two subsequent moments.

Firstly, substitute Doughty dispatched the penalty before Shackell was sent off for dissent, leaving the visitors with nine men as they attempted to hold on to their now slender lead.

Town continued to play patiently, but as Lincoln had a goal lead to protect, they defended narrowly and resolutely, forcing Swindon to play around them before hitting hopeful crosses into a crowded box.

Anderson was the latest to try his luck from distance, but the Lincoln back-line stood firm to head over.

From a resulting corner, McCourt opted to shoot from distance too, but could only curl narrowly wide as Town searched for the equaliser that they so dearly craved.

And with two minutes to spare of normal time, Doughty found that all important equalising goal from 20 yards.

The substitute collected the ball on the edge, faked to curl it into the far corner but instead whipped it into Vickers’ near post to give Wellens’ men a goal they will feel was the least they deserved.

Town ended the game with 17 shots, compared to Lincoln’s five, but could only manage to rescue a point as they drew their 10th game of the League Two campaign.