JIMMY HAS A BALL!
Jimmy Ball’s second-half header saved Stockport County from exiting the FA Trophy after Lee Ndlovu had put the visitors ahead minutes earlier.
The game took an unusually long time to get started with the visitors shading the first half.
Brackley’s Adam Walker’s cleverly lobbed pass saw Aaron Williams poke a shot straight at Ben Hinchliffe, and then his long range effort was gathered comfortably by the keeper. It capped a poor first half-hour.
Good work by Brackley’s Glenn Walker saw him cross for striker Ndlovu, who was eased out of the way by Scott Duxbury. Moments later, James Armson fired over for the visitors.
Gary Stopforth’s long-range effort for County in first-half injury time went high wide and handsome, but it was the closest the Hatters got in an instantly forgettable first period.
The second half showed signs of picking up; the home side managing their first shot on target as Scott Duxbury stung Danny Lewis’ fingers. It was evident that County had received a ‘strong word’ from boss Jim Gannon at half-time as they came out with added purpose.
“I said to the lads at half-time, just judge yourselves out of ten, and I bet quite a few of you are nowhere near the sixes and sevens, so don’t blame me and don’t blame the game plan.”
Warburton nearly broke the deadlock with a moment of class, but Lewis in the Brackley goal made a spectacular save and tipped round the corner.
Moments later Jason Oswell hit the post for the home side as they tried to exert some pressure. The woodwork was struck again, but this time it was the visitors. Luke Graham, up for a corner, rattling the crossbar from ten yards.
Then the deadlock was broken. Again a corner gave County problems, Alex Gudger headed across the face of goal and Ndlovu tapped in.
That woke the home side up. When Oswell headed Dan Cowan’s cross on to the bar, Ball responded quickest and nodded into the empty net.
Hinchliffe then made a crucial save after Armson’s cross found Glenn Walker and his shot found the keeper’s outstretched right glove.
Brackley boss Kevin Wilkin was pleased with his team’s performance.
“The character we’ve shown and the concentration levels we’ve shown is firstclass, and I’m delighted with them. They’ve come out second half and showed a bit more about them, but a draw was a fair result and we’ll go again on Tuesday.”
Gannon was optimistic about the replay. “We’ve gone to Maidenhead and got a result, gone to Southport and got a result, but we need to improve our performance.”
ALL SQUARE: Jimmy Ball heads home Stockport’s equaliser