South Park bowed out of the Emirates FA Cup in their first game in the competition for the first time in their history as they lost 2-0 away at Haywards Heath Town.
They had their best chance of the match within 5 minutes when Joe Jackson’s shot form the edge of the box was pushed away by Lehkyi in the Heath goal for a corner from which the home side broke quickly but they were denied by Elliott’s timely intervention. Chris Smith struck a long range effort over the bar whilst park keeper Callum Thomas punched a corner away under pressure from Cooper. Smith’s free kick from 25 yards was comfortably saved by Lehkyi. Miller broke down the right and pulled the ball back for Rogers who dragged his shot wide of the post. Heath broke the deadlock in the 28th minute as park gave the ball away midway in their own half to Doherty who moved forward into the Park area and his shot took a deflection off Jack Stafford and looped over Thomas into the roof of the net. Lavery headed and Nathan Ayling free kick wide of the upright. Town attacking quickly on the break were at first denied by Thomas who parried a shot and then Dan Moody who cleared the follow up effort off the line. In the last minute of the first half Kieran Lavery’s header from a Smith corner struck the post and went behind for a goal kick.
In the opening minute of the second half Jack Mazzone broke on the left and curled his shot narrowly wide of the far post. Smith latched onto Ayling’s pass but saw his effort turned behind for a corner by Lehkyi. Heath were awarded a penalty in the 58th minute for a foul by Luke Elliott which Miller calmly sent Thomas the wrong way to double the home sides lead. Lavery cut in from the left and his shot form 18 yards was deflected for a corner. Moody’s long range shot was block and his follow up effort from the edge of the box flew the wrong side of the post. Ayling struck a left foot shot over the bar form James McElligott’s lay off. Miller’s shot was deflected for a corner and Simpson played a neat 1-2 with Weston before curling a shot inches past the far post. Thomas pushed away a free kick from 25 yards before Weston hit another free kick against the Park bar. With time running out Moody’s corner form the right was headed over the bar by Elliott.
Park Manager Malcolm Porter reflected after the match, “Congratulations to Haywards Heath they thoroughly deserved their victory and I wish them all the best in the next round. From our perspective we were poor and our level of performance was way off our usual standard and the responsibility for that falls on me as leader of the team, of course after such defeats the standard phrase is now we can concentrate on the league!! But the reality is we need to have two good training sessions this week ahead of a tough Bank Holiday Weekend of fixtures firstly away against an unbeaten Whyteleafe side and then we’re at home on Bank Holiday Monday to East Grinstead both are tough fixtures and we will need to show that we have the strength and character to bounce back from Saturdays disappointing result.”
Park return to League action on Saturday, when Malcolm Porter takes his team on the short journey to Church Road to face Whyteleafe in the first of two games over the Bank Holiday weekend. Then on Bank Holiday Monday Park entertain East Grinstead Town at Whitehall lane, kick off 3.00 pm.
South Park: Callum Thomas, James McElligott, Luke Elliott, Jack Stafford, Dylan Merchant, Nathan Ayling, Chris Smith, Dan Moody, Kieran Lavery, Jack Mazzone, Joe Jackson Subs: Dean Lovegrove, Izzy Adebayo, Ben Senior, Josh Gallagher, Kai Rowe, Harrison Nicholls