ALTRINCHAM cruised into a 3-0 lead after just 23 minutes but, ultimately, were grateful for a bad miss by Abbey Hey's Rhys Webb, which kept them in the FA Cup on Saturday.

Alty winger John Johnston menaced the hosts from the start in the first qualifying round tie and when he cut in from the right to give the visitors a fifth-minute lead it looked as if everything was going to go the Robins' way.

They added a second goal in the 17th minute when James Poole's free kick ricocheted off the Abbey Hey wall and Jordan Hulme nodded the ball on for Josh Hancock to volley into the net.

Six minutes later, Johnston was the provider as his low cross from the right bye-line gave Hulme a tap-in.

Things started to go wrong when they lost playmaker Poole and defender Ben Harrison to injuries in a three-minute spell. But the Robins still looked in control until they failed to defend a free kick more than 40 yards from goal and defender Andrew Smith powered home a header to get his side back in the game.

A minute before half time another free kick proved Alty's undoing. Goalkeeper Anthony Thompson got to the ball but could only push it onto the upright from where Lee Wilshaw pounced to make it 3-2.

Altrincham had more of the ball in the second half but struggled to unlock the home defence.

And four minutes from time, home substitute Webb cut in from the right and Thompson brought him down.

Sam Freakes, a former Alty trialist, beat the visiting keeper from the spot to level the scores.

And Alty had an almighty escape shortly afterwards when Thompson saved a well-struck shot from Fabrice Bembo-Leta only for Webb to steer the rebound wide of the inviting net.

Alty then lost Laurence Taylor to a strong challenge from Webb which meant he had to be stretchered off, to add to their injury woes.

ALTRINCHAM: Thompson, Sheridan, Hannigan, J. Jones, Harrison, Moult, Johnston, Taylor, Hulme, Poole, Hancock. Subs: Harrop, Short, Peers, Densmore, C Jones, Westall, Deasy.