Josh Stokes’ double earned Aldershot Town a replay against Stockport County in the second round proper of the FA Cup after a pulsating 2-2 draw at the EBB Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Stokes had fired the Shots into an early lead, but Stockport equalised three minutes later through Neill Byrne.
The visitors took the lead in the second half through Paddy Madden, but Stokes struck again to force a replay.
The Shots made one change from the side which had beaten FC Halifax Town 1-0 in the National League – with Haji Mnoga coming into the side for Aaron Jones.
The home side started brightly and almost had the dream start when Lorent Tolaj’s lofted ball found Jack Barham, but Barham’s shot was well saved by Stockport keeper Ben Hinchliffe in the opening minute.
The Shots did take the lead on ten minutes. Ryan Glover ran to the edge of the Stockport box and picked out Stokes, and Stokes’ shot took a big deflection to wrongfoot Hinchliffe and nestle into the bottom left-hand corner.
Stockport equalised three minutes later thanks to a superb strike from Byrne.
Byrne picked up the ball on the halfway line and drove towards the Aldershot goal before unleashing a fierce strike from 25 yards out into the top right-hand corner which gave Shots keeper Jordi van Stappershoef no chance.
The Shots responded well to that disappointment and nearly regained the lead when Stokes’ shot went just wide.
Stockport’s Akil Wright was booked for a foul on Stokes and then received a final warning from referee Paul Howard for fouling Mnoga. Wright was swiftly hauled off by Stockport boss Dave Challinor and replaced by Joel Cotterill.
The Shots almost regained the lead on 37 minutes. Stokes drove forward and picked out Tommy Willard, who cut the ball back for Glover – but Glover’s effort from just outside the box curled just wide of the right-hand post.
The sides went in on level terms at 1-1 at half-time, but it took the visitors just 30 seconds to take the lead in the second half.
Macauley Southam-Hayles ran towards the Aldershot goal and found Nick Powell, who cut the ball back for Madden to calmly roll the ball into the bottom left-hand corner from close range.
The Shots then freshened up their forward line, with Kwame Thomas coming on for Barham.
Stockport took control of the game, but the Shots continued to create chances and nearly equalised on the hour mark when Tolaj’s effort went just over the bar.
The equaliser arrived in the 68th minute from a superb counter attack.
Thomas knocked the ball to the right to Tolaj, who played a superb defence-splitting through ball to Stokes. Stokes took a touch before rifling his finish past Hinchliffe.
Stockport pushed for a winner and Odin Bailey’s effort from outside the box was well saved by Van Stappershoef.
The Shots keeper was called into action again shortly afterwards when Madden slipped in Powell in space in the area, but Van Stappershoef saved Powell’s close-range effort with his leg.
Madden nearly scored his second of the game when his left-foot shot from just outside the box flashed just wide.
Stockport made a double change, with Madden and Powell replaced by Tanto Olaofe and Antoni Sarcevic.
Olaofe soon had a good chance but his header was comfortably saved by Van Stappershoef.
On 88 minutes Sarcevic drove forward and slipped a low pass through to Olaofe, who fired his close-range shot straight at Van Stappershoef.
The visitors nearly grabbed a winner in stoppage time when Fraser Horsfall’s header hit the post. The ball was then worked to Sarcevic, who blasted his shot over the bar.
The replay at Edgeley Park will be played at 7.45pm next Wednesday (December 13).
The winner of the replay will travel to Championship outfit West Bromwich Albion in the third round proper of the FA Cup. That tie is scheduled to be played on Saturday, January 6.
Next up for the Shots is a trip to fellow National League outfit Eastleigh in the third round proper of the FA Trophy on Saturday.
The Shots return to National League action with a home game against Eastleigh on Saturday, December 16.