In what has been a busy summer of recruitment for Oldland it was a much changed squad that arrived at the DN Fire Stadium with no fewer than five debuts including four players that were 17 or under.
Former Bournemouth and Brislington midfielder Chloe Tape made her competitive debut as did young defender Esme Griffiths and striker Bryony Higgs.
With striker Olivia Goozee and full back Becca McKay on the bench also it was a more youthful squad. The match started with Oldland having the upper hand as they were the team on the front foot. With several forceful challenges from both teams it was clear that it was going to be a hard fought game. Beth Dale with a long range effort and Annie Hawkins-Hoare with a snap volley went close to opening the scoring for Oldland before Cheltenham forced their way back into the game. O's keeper Jayde Holcombe hadn't had a real save to make before Cheltenham took the lead with an effort from inside the box.
Laura Elphick had a great chance to give Oldland a deserved equaliser before half time as she dribbled past two Cheltenham challenges on the edge of their box before scuffing her shot wide.
The second half started in the same manner as the first with the O's taking the game to their opponents and the introduction of Goozee on 55 minutes clearly unsettled the home defence as her pace and work rate didn't let them settle.
Oldland grabbed the equalizer that they had been looking for on 63 minutes when a well worked free kick routine saw Nicky Hawkins-Hoare's free kick was flicked on by first Annie Hawkins-Hoare then Dale for the onrushing Tape to fire into the bottom corner on the half volley.
By now it was the Abbots firmly on top yet it was the home team that went 2-1 up on 75 minutes when,after a rare attack,a Cheltenham corner was headed in at the far post.
Tape and Higgs fired narrowly wide in response as the Abbots continued to attack the hosts goal in search of a second equalizer and it was truly a magnificent effort from Dale on 82 minutes that achieved just that. A deep cross wasn't cleared properly by the hosts and Dale fired over the out of position keeper from fully 25 yards to cue wild celebrations.
Cheltenham now started throwing bodies forward in the hope of securing an unlikely win but Oldland countered by looking dangerous on the break.
Neither team could force a winner but it was a great start for the Abbots against a team that finished in the top four last season and a very valuable point.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH----BRYONY HIGGS--Played centrally up front in the first half and on the right for most of the second,she made things happen for Oldland whenever she received the ball. A superb debut.