FA Vase heartbreak for Hailsham
An 87th minute goal condemned Hailsham Town to an FA Vase exit at the first hurdle at the hands of Staplehurst Monarchs on a warm afternoon at The Beaconsfield.
Hailsham saw the first chance of the game inside the opening minute when Tom McDonald found Rhys Taylor, whose shot was held, but there was then a lengthy spell of good football from both sides without any real chances of note. On 19 minutes the visitors took the lead, when Staplehurst talisman Pete West intercepted a pass in midfield, and surged forward. Initially he looked to have stumbled when taking the ball wide of Wester Young, but recovered to tuck the ball into the net. After another scare on 26, Hailsham grew into the game, with Connor Townsend having a shot held before Rhys Taylor saw one tipped wide.
After losing Ben Thomsett to injury shortly before half time, Hailsham came out brightly at the start of the second half, and after seeing Townsend again denied by visiting keeper Steve Lawrence on 48, they levelled on 51 when a cross was turned into the net by the unfortunate Alfie Sanders. Hailsham were now on top, with Taylor just failing to connect with an overhead kick on 57 before youngster Freddie Lloyd was narrowly pipped to a through ball on 63.
Ellis Webster was the next to come close for Hailsham with an effort from range, but the visitors continued to battle hard, coming close on 68 before a fine strike from long range crashed against the corner of post and bar on 80. With thoughts of the healthy Beaconsfield crowd of 97 beginning to turn to penalties, a fine save from Wester Young at a 1 on 1 opportunity kept the scores level on 83.
But three minutes from time, a throw on the right hand side led to an opportunity which Staplehurst took full advantage of to take the lead. Hailsham continued to battle - a ball into the area causing controversy when it appeared Webster had been caught by the keeper - with a brief flashpoint following, and the Staplehurst physio ending the fracas with a yellow card.
Despite the result, it was a good performance from a Hailsham side with several absentees, with the Stringers putting in a battling performance which perhaps deserved more of a reward. Next up for Hailsham is a return to league action, making the trip to high flying Shoreham on Tuesday night (7.45).
Stringers: Young, McDonald (F Webster 88), Guest, Thomsett (Lloyd 45), S Townsend, Nicklin (Turner 71), Grey, Playford, C Townsend, E Webster, Taylor. Unused; Makombe, Hathaway
Man of the Match: Archie Guest sponsored by Linden Lodge Kennels and Cattery