The Non-League Football Paper - - FA TROPHY QUARTER-FINALS - By Chris Pratt

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.”

PIC­TURE: Mike Petch

ALL SQUARE: Jimmy Ball heads home Stock­port’s equaliser

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