Brackley Town will have to try and finish the job at the second attempt as they bid for a first ever appearance in the semi-finals of the Buildbase FA Trophy.
Saints drew 1-1 at Stockport County in Saturday’s quarter-final tie. Both goals came in the second half with Lee Ndlovu breaking the deadlock for Saints only for Jimmy Ball to earn County a replay moments later.
A tight, tense first half gave way to a more open second period but defences were on top throughout and both sides will meet again at St James Park to settle the tie on Tuesday, weather permitting.
Saints created the only chances of a dour first period. Aaron Williams’ early effort was somewhat fortuitously saved by keeper Ben Hinchliffe. Adam Walker and Jimmy Armson had shots too high while Ndlovu could not reach Glenn Walker’s fine cross in the best chance of the half just before the break.
Scott Duxbury’s shot after the restart was a first County effort on target, bringing a good save from Danny Lewis. Adam Thomas fired over just a couple of minutes later as the home supporters, watching in brilliant sunshine but freezing temperatures, finally had something to cheer.
Matt Warburton’s fine curling shot was only kept out low to his right by Lewis, a save right from the top drawer to keep the sides level. Saints immediately won a corner at the other end through Ellis Myles’ sheer energy and tenacity only for the bar to deny Luke Graham from Shane Byrne’s corner kick.
But the breakthrough came in the 69th minute from another Byrne corner. This time Alex Gudger won the aerial contest to head the ball goalwards where Ndlovu tapped home for his third goal in five games.
The lead was short-lived however and County were level within four minutes as Dan Cowan’s cross was met by Jason Oswell. His header came back off the woodwork for Ball to apply the touch to send the ball over the line.
Armson hit the post as Saints pressed for a winner and Stockport created some late pressure. But both teams deserved a replay and the pleasure of seeing their name in the hat for Monday’s semi-final draw.