Stockport County recorded a third consecutive 2-0 FA Cup triumph at Edgeley Park, to advance into the competition’s first round proper for the first time since 2012.
The latest win, at the expense of Northern League Division One Bishop Auckland, came courtesy of two goals within seven minutes from Danny Lloyd who now has eight to his name in all competitions.
There were two changes to the line-up that had taken to the EP turf in the National League North against Salford a week previously – with Max Cartwright making his first start and Josh Amis selected to replace Courtney Meppen-Walters and Kay Odejayi as part of a 4-3-2-1 formation.
The opening stages saw County go closest, when, after being fed by Amis, Lloyd had his low drive kept out by the legs of visiting goalkeeper Edward Wilczynski.
But Lloyd made no mistake after 32 minutes – putting the Hatters ahead after chesting down a Mark Ross delivery from the right and volleying home with his trusted left foot.
The Bishops’ chances had been restricted to efforts by Dylan Elliott and Jeff Smith from distance, until Ian Ward played in leading scorer Andrew Johnson – only for the latter’s shot to be parried behind by Ben Hinchliffe’s legs.
That proved a critical moment all round, as, shortly afterwards, Lloyd was teed up by Gary Stopforth on the left, before right-footing a shot into the far corner to double his tally and County’s lead six minutes ahead of the break.
The Hatters retained the momentum against tiring opponents after the interval – albeit without increasing the lead, as they notched up a further seven corners and created around double that number of scoring opportunities.
Lloyd half-volleyed beyond the left upright, Amis twice headed past the woodwork and saw two shots deflected behind, while Michael Clarke and Chris Smalley went close with attempts that followed corners.
And Meppen-Walters, as well as fellow substitute Craig Carney, also threatened the visitors’ goal late on.
The first round draw is scheduled to take place on Monday and will be broadcast live from around 7pm by BBC2 and BT Sport.
The all-important number of County’s draw-ball is 53.
Stockport County: Hinchliffe, Ross (Capt.), Cartwright, Montrose, Clarke, Smalley, Minihan (Meppen-Walters, 82), Stopforth, Amis, Ball (Carney, 57), Lloyd (Marsden, 82); Unused Subs: Rule, Smith, Odejayi, Spencer.
Booked: Ball, Minihan.
Man of the Match: Lloyd.
Attendance: 2,770 (241 away).