STOCKPORT COUNTY have been handed a tough draw in the second round of the FA Trophy.
The Hatters booked their place in the last 32 after coming from behind to clinch a thrilling 3-2 victory at home to Marine on Saturday.
And although the National League North outfit will again play at Edgeley Park in the next round, they will host either AFC Fylde or Brackley Town. Fylde are the runaway leaders of non-league’s second tier while Brackley are one point above County in eighth – but can go second if they win their three games in hand.
The tie will be played on Saturday, January 14, when Jim Gannon’s men had been due to visit Brackley in the league. County have four league games between now and then so will be looking to maintain their current form having won their last three.
Two of those victories came in the FA Trophy, against Bradford Park Avenue and then Marine on Saturday. The Merseyside outfit are in the bottom half of the Evo-Stik Premier, one level below County, yet took the lead through a seventh-minute penalty following a foul by Gary Stopforth.
And although Kayode Odejayi headed the Hatters level from Danny Lloyd’s 42nd-minute cross, Marine went back in front in first-half stoppage time, captain Danny Mitchley scoring his second of the game.
Sam Minihan and Lloyd then went close before Marine’s former Hyde United defender Josh Brizell was sent off for a tackle on John Marsden.
And County made the extra man count as Lloyd equalised from an 85th-minute free-kick before being brought down for a penalty two minutes later. The Hatters’ top scorer stepped up to take the spot-kick and converted his 13th goal of the season before celebrating in front of an ecstatic Cheadle End.
Managerless ALTRINCHAM also featured in today’s draw after a morale-boosting 3-2 victory at Blyth Spartans on Saturday.
The Robins are playing catch-up as the original tie was postponed and they drew 2-2 in the rearranged match, meaning that while everyone else was playing in the first round at the weekend, Alty had a third qualifying round replay in the north east.
Sean Miller gave them a dream start with a superb lob on seven minutes. Miller then struck again on 40 minutes, swiftly followed by former County forward Craig Hobson four minutes later.
Blyth pulled one back on 61 minutes and then another on 90 minutes, but Alty withstood some late pressure, with keeper Tim Deasy making a fine save to tip over a header in stoppage time.
That ensured they will host Cheshire rivals MACCLESFIELD TOWN in the first round next Tuesday (December 20). The winners will receive £5,000 in prize money and travel to Suffolk in the second round to face AFC Sudbury, who play at step four in the Ryman Premier.