THORNBURY Baptists were given the daunting challenge of an away fixture at League champions Woodlands on the opening day of the Bristol Churches League season.

Woodies have been crowned champions in five of the past six seasons, so at least an opening day trip did afford a rare opportunity to take them on whilst the alphabet rendered them bottom of the league.

Goals from Stu Kelly and Jon Cordle secured a fantastic point for the visitors and a timely fillip for manager Chris Beddoes who had been ill.

Thornbury had an unlikely lead in the fourth minute when Woodies failed to deal with a James Hancox corner and Stu Kelly took the ball down deftly on the edge of the box before curling the ball into the top corner.

The first half was frenetic as Thornbury allowed the hosts to come at them but held their shape in defence and largely restricted Woodies to trying their luck from range.

The hosts did make possession pay shortly before half-time when Alex Bakker netted from close range.

Woodlands began to command the game in the second half yet, Thornbury were resilient and committed at the back with a hugely impressive debut from the apprentice Sam Downes alongside the veteran Nick Tymko at centre-half, Phil Loadwick and last year’s player of the season Phil Mansfield.

It was a corner on 75 minutes that broke that resilience for a second time, however as centre-half Pete Sykes scored.

But the Baps equalised when Cordle closed down his man and chipped the onrushing keeper.