Tranmere Rovers came from behind twice in the final 15 minutes to earn a replay against a spirited Oxford City side inspired by a Kabongo Tshimanga hat trick.
Connor Jennings scored a brace for the hosts, before top scorer James Norwood grabbed an 88th minute equaliser to ensure the game will be replayed at the home of Oxford City, Court Place Farm, later this month.
Rovers started the first half strongly and created two chances within the first few minutes.
Firstly, Paul Mullin played in Jake Caprice down the right and the latter passed it across to Jennings who failed to get enough power behind the ball and it went straight to Oxford's keeper Craig King. Moments later Mullin played a quick one-two with Larnell Cole on the edge of the area before he opened fire from 20 yards out, forcing King to palm the ball away.
The visitors' first chance of the game saw the ball end up in the back of the net, although Frankie Musonda’s header was ruled out for offside.
Rovers opened the score line on 34 minutes. Norwood attempted to beat the last man but the ball hit the Oxford defender and fell kindly to Jennings, who placed the ball into the bottom left corner from just inside the area.
The home side’s lead only lasted six minutes. The goal came after the referee deemed a sliding tackle from Hoops skipper Joe Oastler to be fair, despite taking out Rovers talisman Steve McNulty. The loose ball was picked up by Tshimanga and the striker finished well having taken the ball around Scott Davies and stroking it into the unguarded net.
Oxford almost had a second on the stroke of half time when Zac McEachran beat the offside trap to find himself with only Davies to beat but he fired the bouncing ball into the side netting.
The Hoops gained momentum after the break. Winger Sam Nombe almost scored but for some excellent goalkeeping from Davies, who rushed out to close the angle down and block the eventual shot.
Despite the chances for City, Rovers almost restored their lead when Norwood played in substitute Jonny Smith to the right of the 18 yard box, though his curling first time effort went over the far left post.
In the 66th minute, Tshimanga burst across the box from the right and placed the ball back the way he came into the bottom right corner, giving the team from the National League South the lead.
However, Rovers responded in the best way possible. They rallied and forced a corner which was recycled into the area by Ollie Banks, who delivered a sublime curling ball to the back post where Jennings stood unmarked to head across goal and into the far corner.
The confident visitors did not sit back from this however, instead throwing men forward once again and within four minutes they had retaken the lead. A scrappy battle for the ball in the box ended up with Nombe flicking the ball across the goal line and Tshimanga tapped into the empty net for his hat trick.
Jennings almost got his hat trick too with three minutes remaining but his shot from just inside the box was denied by King.
Rovers did not give up and equalised with 90 seconds of normal time remaining. Another superb Banks delivery, this time a set piece from the right, went straight to the feet of Norwood at the back post and he slotted it into the same far corner as Jennings had done to equalise ten minutes earlier.
Tranmere will be in the draw for the second round on Monday alongside Oxford City. The match details for the replay will be announced in due course.
Report by Jake Mathot
Davies, Caprice, McNulty, Monthe, Buxton, Harris (71 Gilmour), Banks, Mullin (45 Tollitt), Cole (57 Smith), Jennings, Norwood. Subs not used: George, Sutton, Mottley-Henry, Bakayogo.