Eastbourne Borough 1, AFC Sudbury 0,
IF Eastbourne Borough enjoy a lucrative FA Cup run this season, perhaps they should consider paying a special bonus to Gary Elphick.
For the big defender not only headed the only goal of the game six minutes in the 84th minute, he made a decisive last-gasp challenge on the stroke of half-time that could well have prevented their plucky Ryman League North opponents from taking the lead.
Borough have been drawn at home to East Thurrock or North Greenford in the fourth qualifying round on October 29.
Saturday’s game was never pretty to watch and Borough were rarely allowed to get into their stride by a Sudbury side that refused to lie down.
Neither team was able to create a clearcut chance in a goalless first half, but Borough looked livelier after the interval and seemed certain to go ahead when a Gary Hart nod-on put Steve Brinkhurst through on the right. But the Sudbury keeper came out to deny him .
The visitors were soon buzzing at the other end of the park where a great run by defender Robbie Martin was stopped only by a Cole foul.
The deadlock should again have been broken in the 73rd minute when Watson was sent through on the left by Matt Crabb but the striker slotted past the advancing Gay only to see the ball roll agonisingly past the far post.
With time running out an uncomfortable Tuesday night trip to Sufffolk was looking a distinct possibility when Crabb, always a danger on the left, delivered a perfect cross for Elphick to climb and head home.
But the game was far from over and the nerves of home fans were tested to the limit as Sudbury forced two stoppage time corners before Rikki Banks was forced to make a superb diving save to deny sub David Lorimer.
For the neutral this was a typical tense cup tie with the underdog always looking capable of springing a shock result.
But thanks to Elphick the Eastbourne horrors of recent years were not repeated.
EASTBOURNE: Banks , Baker, Cole, Hutchinson, Rowe, Elphick, Brinkhurst (Camara 73), Johnson (Smart 59), Watson, Hart (Rook 64), Crabb. Subs not used: Strevett, Charman, Masters.
AFC SUDBURY: Gay, Martin, Sloots (Henshaw 89), Shinn, Adams, Clarke, Howell (Lorimer 84), Clarke, Baker, Emmanuel, Wareham. Subs not used: Swain, Nicoll, Wignall.
REFEREE: Mr. B. Knight.
MoM: Gary Elphick.