An injury-hit Stockport County returned from Tamworth’s Lamb ground empty-handed after two late Reece Styche goals condemned the Hatters to defeat on the artificial 3G pitch.
County had been forced to make two changes to the side that beat Gainsborough Trinity 48 hours earlier, as both Ben McKenna and leading scorer Jason Oswell turned ankles in the process of crafting the only goal of that game.
Connor Hampson and Darren Stephenson were handed starts in their places, and as part of a 4-2-3-1 formation, while newly-registered academy midfielder Jordan Peach was named among the substitutes.
After only four minutes, Scott Duxbury fed Jimmy Ball from the left – and Ball, in turn, threaded a delightful, defence-splitting pass for Sam Minihan to slot left-footed past home goalkeeper Shaun Rowley and give County the lead.
But seven minutes later, the Lambs drew level as Ellis Deeney found Darryl Knights, whose through-ball was rolled in by Bradley Reid.
But with 14 minutes left on the clock, Styche, at the edge of the County box, seized on a clearance by Chris Smalley and rifled home, with the aid of a deflection, to put the Lambs in front.
County came close to equalising five minutes later when a glancing header by Ball, following Sam Walker’s corner on the right, was blocked at the far post by substitute Matt Curley, under pressure from Tom Walker.
The outcome was finally settled beyond doubt after 87 minutes, when Styche earned a penalty after going to ground under a challenge by Clarke in the County area – and duly dusted himself down to send Hinchliffe the wrong way from the spot.
FULL-TIME: Tamworth 3 (Reid 11; Styche 76, 87 pen), County 1 (Minihan 4)
County: Hinchliffe, Cowan, Duxbury (West, 80), Ball, Clarke (C), Smalley, Minihan, S Walker, Stephenson (T Walker, 69), Warburton (Peach, 90), Hampson. Unused Subs: Ormson, Brazel.
Attendance: 1,120 (405 away fans).