Hanley Town will be in Monday’s draw for the 4th Qualifying Round of the Emirates FA Cup. However, they will have to share their ball with Brackley Town as the two teams played out an entertaining 1-1 draw at the Payaro Stadium.
Louis Dodds had put Hanley ahead just before the interval and, it looked like the Midlands Football League side were going to pull off another upset but, Brackley captain Gareth Dean had other ideas. He equalised just before the hour mark to mean the two teams have to do it all again on Tuesday night.
Chris Dagnall scored the winner in the previous round against Chasetown and, he had two glorious chances to score the opening goal of the game. The first came on eleven minutes when he flashed a header wide of the goal from a Louis Dodds corner.
The second came just a couple of minutes later when a poor kick from Danny Lewis saw the ball fall to the former Crewe Alexandra man. He tried to lob Lewis, but, the keeper was able to recover and stop the ball from nestling in the back of the net.
The big moment for Hanley came on the 35th minute when Ryan Campbell-Gordon was able to burst away from the Brackley defence. He then found Dodds with a low cross and, the former Port Vale man was able to smash the ball past Lewis into the bottom corner of the goal.
It was the wake up call Brackley needed as they ended the half strongly with a couple of free-kicks that were well dealt with by Tommy Simkin. The on loan goalkeeper from Stoke City once again putting in a fantastic performance against a side higher up the Non-League pyramid.
After the break, Brackley brought on two forwards as they looked to ask different questions of the Hanley Town defence and, to give the visitors credit they certainly did that as they had most of the chances in the second half.
Brackley should have been level straight after the restart as Matt Lowe picked out Dean from a corner. However, the Brackley captain was to volley his effort into the side netting.
Hanley’s resistance was finally broken just before the hour mark when Lowe and Dean once again linked up with the latter guiding the ball into the back of the net. It was a frustrating goal to concede from a Hanley perspective as many felt that Ryan Shotton was having his shirt pulled as the corner came in.
Lowe almost gave Brackley the lead with just 15 minutes to go when he flashed a header wide of Simkin’s goal with the keeper rooted to the spot.
Hanley finished the game with ten men as Shotton was sent off for a professional foul on Lowe as the Brackley winger tried to get away. The Hanley players appealed the decision as they felt that Shotton had won the ball, but it was to no avail.
The Midlands Football League side were able to hold out for the final few minutes to force a replay which will take place in midweek to see who will play in the 4th and final qualifying round of the famous competition.
Despite the disappointing end to the game, everyone connected with the club can be proud of how the players performed in testing conditions against a side three leagues above them and chasing promotion to the top level of Non-League football.
After the game, I spoke to Hanley Town player-manager Carl Dickinson
I also caught up with goal scorer Louis Dodds to talk about what the goal meant to him.
— Moorlands Radio Sport (@moorlandssport1) October 2, 2021
Hanley Town: Simkin, Green, Walford (Stubbs, 83), Pugh (Sanders, 55) Cotterill, Shotton, Jones, Dickinson, Dagnall, Dodds, and Campbell-Gordon.
Unused subs: Chapman, Graves, Green-Birch, Darlington and Barnsley.
Brackley Town: Lewis, Myles, Yusuf, Murumbedzi, Lomas, Dean, Lowe, Prosser (Richards, 46), Ndlovu, Rolt (Mitford, 90), Culliane-Liburd (York, 46).
Unused subs: Wise, Putz and Worby.