A first half stalemate matched the dreary Northamptonshire weather as the teams cancelled each other out in Saturday's third qualifying round tie at St James Park. But the second half was altogether brighter as Saints enjoyed the better of possession and chances, yet it was Chester who made the breakthrough that proved decisive to send the Blues into the next round.
The sides met three weeks ago in a drawn Vanarama National League North game and the first 45 minutes had another draw written all over it. The half was almost devoid of goalmouth action or goal chances until Saints rallied to end the half on the front foot, Shep Murombedzi and Shane Byrne denied.
After the break Saints seized the initiative. Lee Ndlovu’s shot was well saved by keeper Russ Griffiths, Matt Lowe shot too high and twice Chester cleared after goalmouth scrambles. The visitors spurned a chance when George Waring fired over after Brad Jackson’s shot was beaten away by Danny Lewis and Scott Burton hit his shot sweetly from 20 yards bringing a diving save from Lewis.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 73rd minute when Saints conceded possession cheaply allowing Jackson to find Dudley well placed and he gleefully slammed the ball into the net. Chester managed the remainder of the game well, Lowe’s mazy dribble the closest that Brackley came to an equaliser as his shot was over the bar to Chester’s relief.