Brackley Town will need a replay to overcome Leek Town in the FA Trophy third qualifying round after the two sides played out an entertaining 0-0 draw at St James Park this afternoon.
Saints had few clear-cut chances as the Division One South side more than held their own, and the visitors almost snatched a last-gasp victory when a late goal was disallowed.
However, neither team could find the winning goal, which means a replay and a further game added to Brackley’s already congested fixture list.
Saints currently have three games in hand over a number of teams in the Conference North, with Monday night’s FA Cup tie against Gillingham still to come before they host league leaders Hednesford next Saturday, which will be followed by the replay at Leek on Tuesday.
With youngster Alastair Worby picked in goal in the absence of suspended Billy Turley, the youngster made an assured start with an comfortable early save as Leek began positively and knocked the ball around confidently in the opening exchanges.
Brackley settled into the game though, and is was they who had the first real sight of goal when Steve Towers’ cross-field ball picked out Eddie Nisevic and the left-back drove past two Leek defenders before firing an effort narrowly wide.
Saints were largely on top in a sedate opening quarter, but neither goalkeeper until after the midway point of the half when the game burst into life.
First, Worby denied Jordan Johnson’s free-kick with his legs, then, moments later, Glenn Walker forced a fine save out of Ben Chapman before Worby was back in action to push Johnson’s effort around the post in a flurry goalmouth action.
Brackley then ended the first period on top as Ben Mills headed just wide from Walker’s corner before Leek somehow survived a mass goalmouth scramble after Izak Reid’s cross had almost been turned in.
Having gone into the break goalless, Saints came out with more purpose after the break and twice came close with Mills denied by a last-ditch tackle before captain Ryan Austin headed onto the roof of the net from the resulting corner.
Leek also remained a threat, however, and Johnson fired just wide, but neither side truly looked like winning it - although Chapman did have to be at his best to deny substitute Steve Diggin.
Just as it seemed the tie would end in a goalless draw, Leek looked to have snatched a dramatic and unlikely victory when Johnston headed past Worby and wheeled away in celebration, but the linesman flagged for a push and the goal was disallowed.
That was the last action of the match, meaning a replay next Tuesday night.
Brackley: Worby, Reid, Austin (c), Sharpe, Solkhon, Nisevic, Sandy (Story 66), Towers, Walker, Newton (Diggin 66), Newton (Griffin 75).
Subs not used: Odhiambo, Jarvis
Leek: Chapman, Smith, Bell, Dicker, Bratt, Hall (c), Danylyk, Husbands (Shelley 59), Kinsey (Grice 85), Johnson, Johnston.
Subs not used: McGuire, Swetnam, Evans
Referee: Sian Massey