JACK Payne’s late penalty helped rescue a point for Swindon Town in a 1-1 draw with Harrogate Town in League Two on Saturday.

Swindon were woeful in a first half in which the Sulphurites went ahead through Jack Diamond’s well-taken finish.

But after the introduction of Harry McKirdy and Jayden Mitchell-Lawson, the hosts stepped it up a gear and managed to salvage a point when Mitchell-Lawson was pulled down in the box with less than 10 minutes to play.

The point saw Swindon drop to fourth and ended a record of all wins throughout November.

Swindon made one change to the side that beat Hartlepool United 3-1 on Tuesday night with Ben Gladwin replacing Harry McKirdy in the starting XI. Romoney Crichlow was fit enough to take his spot on the bench after recovering from an ankle injury picked up against Oldham Athletic in late October.

In the first ever meeting between the two clubs, it was Harrogate who enjoyed the better of the first-half play.

The visitors almost scored inside the first five minutes after Swindon almost shot themselves in the foot following what should have been a simple knock-back towards Jojo Wollacott.

Making his 100th appearance for Swindon, Conroy attempted to shepherd the ball home, but Wollacott was reluctant to come for it and Diamond knocked it over the keeper and towards goal. If not for a goal-line clearance from Rob Hunt, it would have been 1-0 to Harrogate.

Lloyd Kerry drove a powerful effort towards the top corner in the eighth minute, but Wollacott sprung up to his right to turn it away for a corner.

Simon Weaver’s side continued creating regular chances, the next two coming through Luke Armstrong. He had a shot blocked at source by Gladwin before heading a cross from the left wide moments later.

In a rare foray forward for the home team, Williams shifted away from his marker down the left with a smart touch before delivering a deflected cross to the back post. Unfortunately for Swindon, it escaped the attentions of Tyreece Simpson and Kaine Kesler-Hayden.

Midway through the first half, Harrogate took the lead. The visitors had played some really nice stuff throughout, but the goal they scored from was as route-one as you could imagine.

A long ball forward from goalkeeper Mark Oxley was missed by Kesler-Hayden and latched onto by Diamond. The Harrogate striker simply poked the ball under Wollacott to give Harrogate a deserved lead.

Garner’s plan to beat Harrogate was not working at all, and frustration was growing rapidly among the home supporters as the first period progressed.

Swindon attempted to create something down the left through Jack Payne just before the break, but his cross towards Simpson was headed back into the danger area and then cleared for a corner.

Swindon’s start to the second half was not much better either, as Harrogate almost doubled their lead. Gladwin left the ball in midfield, and Harrogate broke away down the left.

Diamond crossed towards George Thomson, and only a poor touch prevents the latter from making it 2-0.

Moments later, Payne went on a fantastic run forward, moving past three or four blue shirts, before seeing his shot blocked out. As appeals for a penalty came in, Kesler-Hayden lashed well over.

The hour mark brought a change that went down very well in the home crowd as Gladwin was replaced by Harry McKirdy. The change also allowed Williams to drop deeper and have more of an effect on the game.

With 20 minutes to play, Iandolo delivered a wicked cross low in from the left that missed everyone and was somehow scrambled away. The momentum was fully with the hosts at this point, yet there were very few chances created otherwise.

Harrogate remained dangerous on the counter-attack, and they almost netted the result-clinching second in the 76th minute when Diamond crossed low for Armstrong. But his lay off for Alex Pattison was well blocked by Conroy.

In the 82nd minute, Swindon were handed a lifeline after substitute Jayden Mitchell-Lawson was dragged down inside the box and the hosts were awarded a spot-kick.

Payne had an awfully long time to think about his penalty, but he put it away with aplomb. His shot was powerful and low into the bottom right corner.

Moments after the equaliser, Simpson almost turned the game on its head following a low ball in from the right by Kesler-Hayden. The effort was blocked, but the momentum was all with Garner’s men at this point.

Deep into six minutes of added time, Iandolo was booked for diving when trying to win a penalty, and Payne saw a goal-bound effort cleared away by a retreating Harrogate defender.

But it was not to be a month full of wins for Swindon as Garner’s men were forced to settle for a point.

STFC starting XI: Wollacott, Odimayo, Iandolo, Conroy, Gladwin, Simpson, Payne, Williams, Kesler-Hayden, Hunt, Reed.

SUBS: Ward, Crichlow, McKirdy, Mitchell-Lawson, Gilbert, East, Lyden.

HTFC starting XI: Oxley, Page, Falkingham, Burrell, Thomson, Sheron, Pattison, Kerry, Hall, Diamond, Armstrong.

SUBS: Orsi, Cracknell, Muldoon, Ilesanmi, Williams, Power.