Corby Town produced a fine second-half display as they claimed a seventh home win in a row to book their place in the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup.
The Steelmen eventually ran out 4-2 winners over Evo-Stik Northern League Premier Division side Trafford but not before they had squandered a 2-0 lead in the first half.
However, the hosts pulled away after the break and were well worth their victory in the end.
The Steelmen were without cup-tied pair Nathan Fox and Josh Carpenter and there were three changes in total as joint-manager Tommy Wright, Tom McGowan and Tom James all came into the starting line-up in place of Fox, Sam Ives and Stuart Hendrie.
Corby started brightly and two goals in the first 13 minutes all-but killed the tie off.
Nabil Shariff forced Kieran O’Hara in an early save but, from the second corner that followed after the first was cleared, the Steelmen were in front.
The influential Lee Hendrie swung it in from the left and skipper Malone did the rest with a firm header at the near post.
And the tie looked all over when the hosts double their lead soon after. Hendrie started the move as a lovely ball with the outside of his boot sent Tom Berwick clear down the right.
His low cross was towards Wright but O’Hara got a touch, although he could only push it to McGowan who fired home.
It all seemed a bit too easy at that point but if the Steelmen thought it would remain that way they were sorely mistaken.
Trafford looked dangerous going forward and the warning signs were there when one effort struck the post before Tom Schofield saw one cleared off the line.
And the visitors were given a lifeline on 32 minutes when Michael Oates was shoved over by Chris Carruthers in the area. A penalty was awarded and Shelton Payne stepped up to beat Walker.
Berwick shot just wide as Corby looked to hit back but Trafford drew level two minutes before the break. A corner wasn’t dealt with and, after an almighty scramble, Lewis Lacy scored from close-range.
The Steelmen came out with purpose after the break and they regained the lead on 49 minutes when Malone once again rose higher than anyone to power home Hendrie’s corner.
There was a brief lapse when Walker’s poor clearance went straight to Payne but the Corby stopper recovered well to save the winger’s shot.
Trafford were made to pay for that when the hosts restored a two-goal advantage just before the hour. Shariff was sent clear down the left, he rolled the ball across goal and visiting defender Andy Smart put it into his own net.
Malone struck a post with a fine shot and also headed wide as he chase a hat-trick while Berwick brought the best out of O’Hara with a 30-yard piledriver.
The lively Payne saw another shot saved by Walker but the Steelmen had few more scares as they comfortably saw the game out to earn a place in Monday’s draw, which will be live on Talksport radio from 10.30am.
Steelmen: Walker; Thomas, Malone, Gascoigne, James; Carruthers; Berwick, L Hendrie, McGowan (sub Ives, 82 mins), Shariff; Wright (sub S Hendrie, 78 mins). Subs not used: Clarke, Ingram.
Trafford: O’Hara; Mason, Bayunu, Lacy, Schofield, Smart; Payne, Andrews (sub Parker, 63 mins), Lacy, Ashton (sub Mbalanda, 74 mins), Oates, Fallon. Subs not used: Palmer, Anderson, Mbalanda, McKenzie, Read.
Referee: Grant Taylor.
Goals: Malone (5 mins, 1-0), McGowan (13 mins, 2-0), Payne pen (33 mins, 2-1), Lacy (43 mins, 2-2), Malone (49 mins, 3-2), Smart og (57 mins, 4-2).
Bookings: Carruthers, Mason (both fouls).