Hailsham Town fell at the first FA Cup hurdle on Saturday, beaten by a powerful Lingfield team with an outstanding goalscoring ace in their pack.
Manager Kenny McCreadie has moulded a keen, energetic side which could well take Division Two of the Sussex County League by storm. .
But on Saturday the Stringers had to give second best as visitors Lingfield ruthlessly took their chances – and could call on the genius of Nicky Forster.
The former Brighton hero, and player-manager of Brentford only last season, is now taking coaching badges and happily turning out for his home village side.
A thoroughbred among also-rans? That would be a harsh judgement on the effort and energy of the two teams, who tried hard to play football, but whose stampeding pace and over-commitment did not always serve them well.
Under hot sun, a hard Beaconsfield ground echoed to the wincing crunch of boot on boot as tackles flew in.
Forster, on the other hand, gave a little master class in control, vision, movement and finishing – the latter to devastating effect with two goals, each at a crucial moment in the game.
Lingfield were already an early goal up – Dan Oakins seizing on a defensive error – but Hailsham were enjoying a really good spell in the middle of the first half, and came close to equalising with excellent efforts from Shane Saunders, Ryan Fletcher and Alex Attill.
Then on the half-hour Forster struck, spinning his marker and arrowing his shot under Stringers keeper Leon Morris.
Even then the game did not look lost, but right on half-time a catastrophic error gifted possession to Lingfield on half-way and Oakins lobbed Morris for 3-0.
Second-half comeback? There were chances: Saunders hooked a shot inches wide, and then Alex Hall seemed to be sliced down for a red card and penalty, but referee Stephen Brown disagreed.
But with 20 minutes left came the killer blow.
That man Forster took a return pass, glided forward and perfectly found the far corner of the net to break Hailsham hearts and send the brave Stringers spinning out of the FA Cup.
Hailsham: Morris, Dean Stevens, Ottley, Richardson, Earley, Fletcher, Hall, Jarvis, Leach, Saunders, Attill. Subs: Jacob Stevens, Danny Stevens, Beckett.