Kirkley’s FA Cup dream comes to an end
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Kirkley & Pakefield's FA Cup dream was extinguished, but not without putting up a fight against Hitchin in the second qualifying round at Walmer Road.
Goals in either half from the Canaries, who play two levels above the Royals, were enough to see off Gavan Tipple's men, who were left to rue the referee ruling out a Kirkley 'goal' at 1-0 in the second half when it appeared the ball had crossed the line.
Hitchin opened the scoring in the 14th minute when a good ball into the box by Callum Donnelly found Matt Lench, who netted from close range.
Hitchin's attacking experience was showing and they continued to pressure the Royals' goal, with keeper Luis Tibbles in fine form.
The crowd of 217 were seeing a closely-fought contest and on 55 minutes the home team looked to have pulled a goal back when a fine shot from the right by Kyle Baker was gathered from under the bar by keeper Charlie Horlock and many thought the ball had crossed the line.
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However, with no television technology, the officials made a crucial decision and ruled no goal, much to the disappointment of the home supporters.
The Royals were suddenly having much more of the play and Matthew Brown had a glorious chance to level the score but, from inside the six-yard box, he miscued his shot over the bar.
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A double substitution by the Royals on 73 minutes saw Jack Smith and Cameron Brooks come on for Michael Tacon and Miguel Lopez but a minute later Hitchin doubled their lead as Robbie Burns slid home.
Tibbles, in the home goal, made another fine save before sub Brooks shot over at the other end.
Kirkley could be proud of a gutsy display, but it will be Hitchin's name in the hat for the next round as well as £4,500 prize money.
Matt Blake's first-half brace helped Norwich United remain four points clear at the top of the Thurlow Nunn Premier Division as they defeated Brantham Athletic 2-1.
The Robbie Harris era at Fakenham got off to a winning start against Whitton as the Ghosts came from behind thanks to goals from Ashley Jarvis and Jake Wiseman.
Gorleston fought out a 1-1 draw at Newmarket thanks to Nathan Russell's first-half strike whilst Swaffham went down to a heavy 4-0 defeat at home to Long Melford.
Thetford claimed their first victory of the season thanks to a 4-2 win at home to FC Clacton.
Oliver Standley (two), Mason Thorogood and Shaun Hundson got the goals.
In the First Division Chris Holmes grabbed the only goal of the game as Diss won at home to Downham.
Connok Deeks scored twice in Great Yarmouth Town's 5-2 win against Ely at home. Declan McAvoy, Sean Perfect and an own goal completed the scoring for the Bloaters.
Dereham Town Reserves were held to a 2-2 draw at home to Debenham whilst King's Lynn Town Reserves lost 2-0 at Stowmarket.