testing time in an orthodox right-wing role while the final attempt of the half came when Lingard forced a straightforward stop out of Cropper.
It took only 19 seconds after the restart for a purposeful United to take the lead in stunning fashion. Fed by James, Lingard was able to burst forward to despatch a sweet low finish past Cropper's left hand and into the far corner of the net.
The Saints were rocked and keeper Cropper survived a nervous moment when his clearance struck Januzaj but he caught the ball safely enough as it looped in the air. Although Michele Fornasier had to make a vital clearance to blot out an Omar Rowe cross at the near post, the Reds continued to press.
The energetic Charni Ekangamene ferried the ball to Januzaj, who forced a sprawling save out of Cropper and a second goal seemed certain when a Januzaj corner was flicked on by Powell to Thorpe but the captain's powerful header was blocked on the line by Corby Moore.
United were able to create chances almost at will but Veseli's drive cleared the bar, as did another Tunnicliffe effort after intelligent approach work by Januzaj and raiding right-back Veseli. Powell provided a couple of late shots, to no avail, while Januzaj's exciting dribbles helped keep the crowd warm on an increasingly cold evening in Altrincham.
United: Amos; Veseli, Thorpe, Fornasier, Vermijl (James 11); Lingard, Ekangamene, Tunnicliffe, Cole, Januzaj; Powell. Subs not used: Lawrence, Sutherland, Blackett, van Velzen.