A late, late equaliser by substitute Myles Hippolyte kept the the Hatters’ FA Cup campaign alive, as they held League One hosts Charlton in South London.
In a first meeting for more than a dozen years between the two sides, and their second in the Cup following a 1948 Fourth Round tie before a crowd just shy of 40,000 at The Valley, County went in front through Chris Hussey during the opening stages, before the ‘Addicks’ hit back with two goals in 16 minutes to edge the first half, and Hippolyte’s last-gasp header earned his side a replay at Edgeley Park.
County took to the field on a mild late-November afternoon showing changes from the League Two starting line-up that faced Leyton Orient in SK3 a week earlier. Callum Camps, Ollie Crankshaw, Joe Lewis and Ryan Rydel comprised the recalled quartet – replacing Hippolyte, Fraser Horsfall, Paddy Madden (all of whom were included on the bench) and the injured Antoni Sarcevic. Ryan Croasdale took the captain’s armband in Madden’s stead, whilst Irish striker Daniel Okwute and 17-year-old right-back Luke Partington both featured in the senior squad – among nine substitutes permitted for the competition – for the first time.
Before two minutes were on the clock, each side had fashioned a chance – with Rydel crossing from the left for Will Collar to launch a downward header into the arms of home goalkeeper Ashley Maynard-Brewer, and, by way of a counter-attack immediately afterwards, Charlie Kirk forcing Ben Hinchliffe to dive and smother a low shot at the other end.
But then, having earned the contest’s inaugural corner in the third minute, the Hatters stunned their hosts by taking the lead. Hussey’s short delivery from the right was returned to him near the edge of the area, from where he propelled the ball into the far top corner of the net.
A quarter of an hour later, Charlton’s first corner – also taken from the right – found Albie Morgan, whose shot from outside the box flew narrowly shy of the far post. And a cross by Kirk from the opposite flank was headed by leading scorer Jes Rak-Sakyi, as the hosts began to press for an equaliser.
It arrived just after the first half’s mid-point, when Steven Sessegnon cut in from the right by-line and the ball squirmed home from the narrowest of angles, courtesy of a deflection off Hinchliffe.
County looked to regain the advantage on the half-hour, when a Rydel cross from the left was met by Kyle Wootton – only for the striker to head over – before Morgan drove another attempt beyond the left upright. But Morgan’s next attempt, six minutes ahead of the break, saw him put the hosts in front, as he latched on to a pin-point through-ball from skipper George Dobson to lob the advancing Hinchliffe.
Six minutes of first-half added time were awarded to give the tie a fleeting World Cup feel – but yielded little of note, save for a glancing Crankshaw header that soared past the far post following another Rydel delivery from the left.
HALF-TIME: Charlton 2 (Hinchliffe (o.g.), 23; Morgan, 39), County 1 (Hussey, 3).
The teams ran out to new wave classic ‘Into The Valley’ for the resumption, leaving the Hatters with 45 minutes to prevent their Cup journey from hitting the Skids. And Crankshaw led an initial charge towards the end housing over 900 travelling County fans by striking two early second-half shots – with one, from 12 yards, fizzing past the left post, and the other, from outside the area, stinging the hands of Maynard-Brewer.
At the other end, Rak-Sakyi twisted and turned his way into the area to threaten the County goal, although his eventual shot lacked pace and was comfortably gathered up by Hinchliffe. And just before the hour, Rydel went close with an effort that was blocked by Sean Clare.
The Hatters brought on Hippolyte and Madden to bolster the attack – and almost immediately went close through Rydel, whose latest shot, from the left, skimmed across the six-yard box and just wide of the far post.
Home substitute Corey Blackett-Taylor, who had been introduced by the Addicks for a similar purpose, unleashed a shot from just inside the box that Hinchliffe parried. And minutes later, the winger almost went one better after racing towards from the left and striking the far upright.
More substitutes on each side tried their luck, as Maynard-Brewer saved twice in quick succession from Hippolyte and Calum MacDonald – before Diallang Jaiyesimi cleared the crossbar with his first touch for the hosts.
As normal time approached its end, Morgan spotted Hinchliffe off his line and lofted an audacious effort towards goal from 30 yards out – but County’s Number One back-tracked to tip the ball over.
And then, in the sixth minute of seven added on, an in-swinging corner by Macauley Southam-Hales from the left found Hippolyte, whose headed finishing touch found the far corner and kept County’s name in the hat for Monday’s Third Round draw.
FULL-TIME: Charlton 2 (Hinchliffe (o.g.), 23; Morgan, 39), County 2 (Hussey, 3; Hippolyte, 90 + 6).
Team (3-5-2): Hinchliffe; Wright, Lewis (Hippolyte, 63), Hussey (Horsfall, 46); Southam-Hales, Collar, Camps (Madden, 63), Croasdale (Capt.), Rydel (MacDonald, 81); Wootton, Crankshaw (Evans, 77).
Unused Subs: Jones, Okwute, C. Johnson, Partington.
Booked: Southam-Hales, Horsfall.
Attendance: 3,889 (925 away).
Reporter: Gareth Evans.
Photographer: Mike Petch.