Hednesford Town’s hopes of an extended run in the FA Trophy this season were kept alive thanks to a late equaliser from Simeon Maye six minutes from time to earn a replay against Stafford Rangers.
On a heavy Keys Park pitch due to a deluge of rain in the build-up to kick-off, the game started at a high pace with a dangerous Michael Williams cross just being cleared by the visiting defence as Gurjit Singh was ready to pounce before Sean Geddes sliced an effort just wide at the other end for Rangers.
It would be the visitors that would strike first though, through one of the six former Pitmen players in their line-up. Elliot Hodge advanced down the left and his cross into the box picked out an unmarked Geddes who miss-hit a shot into the net after 15 minutes.
Hednesford really struggled to get into their stride after this early blow with Stafford pressing the Pitmen every time they were on the ball – although they did have a half chance in the 37th minute when George Carline got on the end of a free-kick but the ball was cleared for a corner from inside the six-yard box.
Two minutes later Rangers should really have doubled their lead as a Kris Taylor free-kick picked out an unmarked Joshua Gordan at the back post, but he planted his header wide.
After struggling to create anything during the first period the Pitmen ended the half with two good chances to go in level at halftime. First Jamie Matthews picked out Gurjit Singh but the striker saw his shot on the spin saved, before Ashley Sammons saw his low shot saved by Adam Whitehouse after 43 minutes.
The start of the second half saw former Pitmen Kyle Perry having a header easily saved by Dan Crane before Matthews did the hard work in beating his man, only to sky the ball over the Rangers bar in the 49th minute.
Once again the Pitmen were being stifled by their opponents and Rangers almost doubled their lead in the 72nd minute when a free kick into the box picked out Richard Batchelor and his low headed effort went wide of the post.
Despite this Hednesford came to life in the last ten minutes and thought they had their equaliser in the 83rd minute when Danny Glover picked out Carline at the back post, but his effort was superbly turned behind for a corner by Whitehouse.
Just when it seemed that the chance had gone from the resultant corner Maye rose highest to send a header down into the ground and back up into the roof of the net – cue pandemonium from the home supporters.
The Pitmen were now well on top and had a great chance to win it in the 90th minute as Carline fed the ball to Sammons but his rising shot from 12 yards clipped the top of the bar on its way behind.
Hednesford Town: Crane, Williams, Bramall, Maye, Mutton, Flanagan, Singh (Glover 58), Thorley, Matthews (Phipps 72), Sammons, Carline
Subs not used: Wagstaff, Martin, Hutton
Stafford Rangers: Whitehouse, Morris, Griffiths, Townsend, Bailey, Taylor, Hodge, Gordon, Perry (Levi Reid 86), Geddes (Izak Reid 69), Batchelor
Subs not used: Tolley, Bowen Lee
Star Man: Simeon Maye
Entertainment Rating: Two Stars