County threw away a three goal lead at Edgeley Park on Saturday, as FC United staged a second half fightback to ensure the two sides meet again on Tuesday.
Three goals in the first 45 minutes from Matty Warburton and Jason Oswell ensured that the Hatters went in at the break in a comfortable position, but goals from Jason Gilchrist, Tom Greaves and Steve Irwin saw FC leave with a replay.
County started strong, and went ahead on 19 minutes, after a calamitous mistake at the back from former Hatter Jordan Fagbola and Zac Corbett allowed Warburton a one-on-one, which he duly finished.
Warburton then had another, firing into the bottom corner from a free-kick 20 yards out, the ball did skim Gary Stopforth’s back as it flew into the corner, thus leaving the two players to claim the goal between themselves as players and fans celebrated regardless.
As half-time approached, County had their third, a good cross from Duxbury was met by Jason Oswell who scored his 12th goal of the season, leaving County almost home and dry for the fourth qualifying round as they went in at half-time.
HT: County 3-0 FC United
A slight hamstring injury to Jason Oswell resulted in the forward being substituted as a precaution for the start of the second half, Harry Winter came on in place to face his former club, as County dropped to five at the back.
United were getting back into the game now, and Jason Gilchrist pulled one back for FC on 57 minutes, drilling low past Hinchliffe after dispossessing Jimmy Ball in midfield.
Gilchrist then turned supplier 16 minutes later, providing Tom Greaves with a simple finish to leave the deficit at one goal, with over 20 minutes to play.
The comeback was complete just five minutes from time, goalscorer Greaves went down dubiously under a challenge from Hinchliffe to win his side a penalty, which Steve Irwin duly converted to bring the scores level.
As the referee blew for full-time, both sides seemed happy to settle for a replay in what had been a topsy-turvy game. The winner of the replay, which is taking place on Tuesday, will face Stafford Rangers or Telford United in the second round.
FT: County 3-3 FC United
Squad: Hinchliffe, Cowan, Duxbury (Hampson, 68), Ball, Smalley, O’Halloran, Thomas, Walker, Oswell (Winter, 46), Stopforth, Warburton (Dixon, 78).
Unused Subs: Ormson, Clarke, McKenna, Czubik.