BOWERS & Pitsea got their first ever Isthmian Premier League campaign underway with a 1-1 draw against Wingate & Finchley.

Although Olumide Oluwatimilehin gave Wingate a first half lead, Bowers improved after the interval and David Knight grabbed Bowers’ maiden goal in the third tier of non-league football.

Neither side could go on and find a winner in the first clash of the season.

Opportunities were few and far between in the opening 45 minutes as both sides struggled to battle against the gale-force winds sweeping across the Len Salmon Stadium.

But Wingate broke the deadlock nine minutes before the break as Oluwatimilehin let fly with a ferocious effort from 30 yards out and Bowers goalkeeper Callum Chafer could do nothing to stop the drive finding the top corner of the net.

Bowers responded with Knight’s looping strike going inches over the crossbar soon after.

The hosts came even closer to levelling matters moments before the break as Callum Leahy chested down a Brad Warner corner before striking goalwards, but Wingate left-back Layne Eadie cleared the ball off the goal-line.

Matters got worse for Bowers as, just eight minutes into the second half, Jamie Dicks was forced off with a nasty looking injury when off the ball.

Boss Rob Small reacted by bringing Tom Stephen and Quentin Monville into the fray in place of Dicks and Dan Trendall.

Warner then tested Wingate goalkeeper Shane Gore with a low effort before Wingate striker Marvin Morgan’s strike went just over the crossbar.

Bowers continued to search for an equaliser and Kenzer Lee should have done better with a header just before the hour mark.

Knight’s in-swinging free-kick found the central defender unmarked but the former Hornchurch man’s attempt was easily gathered by Gore.

However, with 69 minutes on the clock, Bowers drew level by scoring their first goal in Isthmian Premier League football.

An attempted pass over the top by Stephen was misjudged by Wingate central defender Henry Marku and allowed Warner to charge towards the by-line before cutting the ball back for Knight to lash home.

Knight would have doubled his tally for the afternoon four minutes later were it not for Gore making a stunning save to keep out the frontman’s blistering strike.

Bowers saw two penalty appeals turned down by referee Karl Sear late on, with the hosts feeling on both occasions as though a Wingate defender had handled the ball.

Martyn Stokes nodded a Warner cross wide of the target as the encounter moved into the closing exchanges, while Wingate striker Morgan sent a low drive inches past the post.

The clash was to end all-square and the points were shared at a blustery Len Salmon Stadium.