CAPTAIN Kane O’Keefe grabbed Salisbury a dramatic late equaliser against promotion rivals Bristol Manor Farm, to keep his side two points off second placed Bideford, who they’ll meet at the Ray Mac on Saturday.

A crowd of 658 braved the cold conditions to watch the top of the table encounter and the home fans were nearly rewarded with an early goal. On twelve minutes Stuart Green fired a close range shot in off the post, only to see the assistant referee’s flag raised for offside.

Steve Claridge’s side went close regularly as they looked to gain their first league win at home since August 28th, for large periods it looked as if it wasn’t going to be the Whites in front of goal.

Tom Whelan made a brilliant run from outside the area into the right centre of the box, beating four defenders in his path. He then squared the ball to the inside of the six-yard box, however, Danny Young spectacularly miscued his shot over the bar, much to the amazement of the players and spectators alike.

Salisbury started the second half with real purpose, Tom Whelan nearly broke the deadlock as his shot struck the upright. Up until the point Bristol Manor Farm hadn’t had many chances in the match, but every time they were in attack they looked dangerous.

Dean Stamp, the league’s leading scorer, had tested Charlie Searle on a couple of occasions and it would in fact be him who would break the deadlock.

Salisbury were left to rue missed opportunities when the ball fell fortuitously to Dean Stamp in the area, the league’s leading scorer made no mistake as he slotted home the opener, grabbing his sixteenth goal of the campaign so far.

With the home side reeling from conceding, Claridge shuffled the pack. Kane O’Keefe, who had been a defiant figure in the Salisbury backline was pushed upfront and Claudio Herbert replaced Aaron Dawson.

The switch saw Lewis Benson assume a central role, with the tricky Herbert on the right flank. The pair began linking well, applying solid pressure which leads to chances, Stuart Green and Elliot Wheeler both firing wide from good positions.

With only two minutes left on the clock, Claudio Herbert began another dance down the wing, his opportunity to pass the full back was closed so he played inside to Benson, who’s cross to the back post was met powerfully by Kane O’Keefe, who nodded home to level proceedings.

A sense of relief was released around the Stadium and O’Keefe’s goal set up a grandstand finish.

Salisbury peppered the Manor Farm area, and twice went close. Harley Purnell, off the bench for the visitors, was called upon to head off the line, the ball then fell to Young, who sadly pulled his chance over the bar.

After the game Salisbury manager Steve Claridge said: "I’m disappointed we didn’t get the three points, we had enough chances, but at the end of the day your relieved you haven’t got beaten and I think that’s probably happened too many times this season."

"We know the areas that we have to address and we’re trying very hard to address those.”

"Kane has all of a sudden become of the most important, if not the most important player we’ve got. Because of the gaps we have in the squad and his versatility, he can fit in anywhere.

"I’m pleased he got the goal he’s been fantastic for us, whether it be at the back or upfront, if I could have started him upfront who knows what might have happened."