County returned to Edgeley Park and to National League action – earning a point against play-off contenders Bromley in Dave Challinor’s first home game as manager.
The Hatters, however, will see it as two points dropped, having gone ahead early in the second half courtesy of Scott Quigley – only to concede a minute from time through a Liam Hogan own goal.
With the fixture’s kick-off moved to teatime to accommodate television coverage, the Hatters took to the field with dark having already fallen – and they showed three changes from the FA Cup starting line-up at Bolton six days earlier. Jordan Keane, Ryan Rydel and Antoni Sarcevic all returned, by way of replacements for Hogan and Sam Minihan (both of whom were named among the substitutes), as well as for the injured Ben Whitfield.
County fashioned the first chance of the early evening, with just a couple of minutes played, as Paddy Madden’s curling shot took a deflection narrowly past the right post. And 10 minutes later a looping cross by Keane from the right forced visiting goalkeeper Mark Cousins to parry with his back arched – before the Hatters attacked again, with Madden denied only following a last-ditch intervention by midfielder Jude Arthurs.
In-form Bromley, without a National League defeat in nine games, went close when James Alabi latched on to Harry Forster’s cross from the left – only to head wide of the near post.
But County continued to enjoy the greater share of opportunities, as Sarcevic executed a hook shot into the arms of the Bromley ‘keeper, Rydel fired over, and Quigley’s angled, goal-bound attempt from the left was brilliantly kept out by Cousins at full stretch.
The Hatters did have the ball in the net during added time before the break – but the shot by Quigley at close range, after Cousins had saved from Rydel, was ruled out for offside.
HALF-TIME: County 0, Bromley 0.
The Hatters began the second half much as they had spent most of the first, in attacking mode, and promptly earned two corners before taking the lead four minutes in.
Quigley broke the deadlock after picking up the ball on the edge of the area and taking a touch, before left-footing home past Cousins from 12 yards out at the Cheadle End for his third goal in as many games.
Rooney cleared the crossbar from just outside the box, before Quigley headed over after connecting with Keane’s cross from the right, as County went in search of a second goal. And at the other end, Ethan Ross held on cleanly to an effort from the right by Luke Coulson.
Further County chances came the way of Madden, who side-footed over Rydel’s cross from the left, Quigley, whose attempt was blocked by Cousins, and Rydel, who drilled narrowly shy of the right post after being teed up by Madden.
With three minutes remaining Hogan replaced Madden, who had been acting as captain in his stead – but two minutes later, as the visiting ‘Ravens’ swooped for a late attack on County’s goal, the club skipper inadvertently administered a final touch to the ball to deflect it over the line for Bromley’s equaliser.
FULL-TIME: County 1 (Quigley, 49), Bromley 1 (Hogan (o.g.), 89).
Team (3-4-1-2): Ross; Keane, Palmer, Kitching; Crankshaw (Minihan, 73), Croasdale, Rooney (Collar, 75), Rydel; Sarcevic; Madden (Capt.) (Hogan, 87), Quigley.
Unused Subs: Hinchliffe, Reid.
Booked: Croasdale, Rooney, Rydel.
Man of the Match: Quigley.
Attendance: 5,515 (78 away).
Reporter: Gareth Evans.
Photographer: Mike Petch.