Had the Hatters not been entertaining Brackley in the FA Trophy tie, they would have been travelling down to Northamptonshire to meet the ‘Saints’ for a National League North fixture.
But they will now get to make the trip there on Tuesday night, a fortnight ahead of the rescheduled league match, after a last-gasp screamer by Danny Lloyd earned him his 17th goal of the seasonand the Hatters a draw that will see them replay at Brackley’s St James Park.
The visitors had taken the lead early in the second half through their own leading scorer Steve Diggin, before being pegged back in the dying seconds of the contest.
County, who had taken to the field with an unchanged line-up to that which had started at Boston a week previously, looked to have a good claim for a penalty with just five minutes on the clock, after Lloyd went to ground in the Brackley area under a challenge by Alex Gudger – but Referee Andrew Miller waved play on.
What followed was an even first half that saw the Hatters enjoy the greater share of possession and chances early on.
After eight minutes, Jimmy Ball’s shot from a Sam Minihan cross on the right was parried out by visiting goalkeeper Laurie Walker, and Lloyd was not quite able to turn in the rebound.
Then, around the mid-point of the half, Walker tipped Scott Duxbury’s rasping shot from just inside the Brackley box past the right post.
But Brackley began to present a greater threat as the break approached. And County’s Number One Ben Hinchliffe did well to keep out Gudger, after the defender had cut in and shot from the left.
Having ended the first half brightly, the visitors made an ideal start to the second by going ahead after 51 minutes.
Ball lost possession near the halfway-line, before Jimmy Armson found Diggin in space, and the latter fired home from inside the County area.
The Hatters came close to levelling within five minutes, when Kay Odejayi connected with a Minihan cross – only for the big striker’s shot to hit the underside of the Cheadle End crossbar and be cleared.
But with an exit from the competition looming, they secured themselves a lifeline four minutes into added time. Taking a short corner to Minihan, before receiving the ball back, Lloyd advanced into the Brackley box and let rip with the shot that keeps County in the hat for Monday’s Third Round draw.
FULL-TIME: County 1 (Lloyd, 90+4), Brackley 1 (Diggin, 51)
County: Hinchliffe, Ross (Capt.) (Felix, 65), Duxbury, Montrose, Clarke, Smalley, Minihan, Stopforth, Odejayi, Ball (Marsden, 57), Lloyd. Unused Subs: Cartwright, Ormson, Meppen-Walters.
Man of the Match: Montrose.
Attendance: 1,605 (13 away).