The Hatters’ second home match of the week saw them have to settle for a share of the spoils against a spirited Maidenhead United side.
County twice came from behind – with goals in each half from Harry Cardwell and Paddy Madden salvaging a point at Edgeley Park.
Simon Rusk named the same starting line-up for a third successive game – and the bench was also unchanged from that chosen for the home fixture with King’s Lynn four days previously – as County took to the field in the Saturday lunchtime sunshine, with all National League matches having been rescheduled to finish before, or to begin following the conclusion of, the Duke of Edinburgh’s 3pm funeral.
The visiting ‘Magpies’ had first sight of goal with a couple of minutes on the clock, although Sam Barratt’s strike from the edge of the box cleared the Cheadle End crossbar by some distance. And half a dozen minutes later, at the other end, County’s inaugural attempt of note saw Cardwell, from the right, drill narrowly wide of the far post.
A free-kick routine involving Ryan Croasdale, James Jennings and John Rooney culminated in a shot from Rooney that fizzed beyond the same upright – before Barratt connected with James Comley’s cross from the left to head over, and a half-volley by Ryan Upward was deflected behind, for the visitors.
With 26 minutes played, another Upward shot was tipped over by Ben Hinchliffe to earn the Magpies their second corner of the afternoon. And from the set-piece – delivered by Dan Sparkes on the right – they took the lead, with centre-back Manny Parry firing in.
The Hatters were behind for a dozen minutes, before getting back on level terms. Good work by Alex Reid on the left led to a low cross from the byeline that Cardwell converted past Taye Ashby-Hammond from close range, to send the teams in all square at the break.
HALF-TIME: County 1 (Cardwell, 38), Maidenhead 1 (Parry, 26).
An early corner for Maidenhead after the resumption – taken, on this occasion, by Comley on the left – did what its immediate predecessor had done and found Parry, but the goal-scorer could not replicate his first-half finish, and headed well wide.
Chances were rather at a premium for the next 20 minutes – until newly-introduced substitute Elliot Newby, from the left, teed up Reid, who fired just shy of the near post, Cardwell headed beyond the opposite upright following a cross on the right from Macauley Southam-Hales, and Rooney blasted an effort narrowly over.
But for all that, the next opportunity fell to the Magpies – who, courtesy of a low, drilled shot by Danilo Orsi that nestled in the bottom-left corner of the net, duly took it to get their noses back in front.
Again, County did not have to wait terribly long for an equaliser – as, four minutes later, Madden turned the ball in, after Palmer had nodded down a Southam-Hales corner from the left.
An added-time free-kick for County offered the potential to take all three points late on, but Rooney’s delivery from the left was gathered by Ashby-Hammond to keep the scores level.
FULL-TIME: County 2 (Cardwell, 38; Madden, 78), Maidenhead 2 (Parry, 26; Orsi, 74).
Team (3-4-1-2): Hinchliffe; Hogan (Capt.), Palmer, J. Jennings; Southam-Hales, Croasdale, Rooney, Walker (Newby, 63); Madden; Cardwell, Reid (Minihan, 71).
Unused Subs: Williams, Fitzsimons, Collar.
Booked: Palmer, Rooney.
Man of the Match: Southam-Hales.
Reporter: Gareth Evans.
Photographer: Mike Petch.