Nothing but pride as Colney Heath’s FA Cup adventure ends

Shortwood United were one of the victims in Colney Heath's superb FA Cup adventure. Picture: KARYN H

Shortwood United were one of the victims in Colney Heath's superb FA Cup adventure. Picture: KARYN HADDON - Credit: Archant

It may have eventually ended in defeat – but Colney Heath exited the FA Cup with their heads held high and their ears ringing with plaudits.

The Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division side were in the second qualifying round for the first time in their history and produced one of the great FA Cup stories to take Burgess Hill Town, who play in the Bostik League Premier Divison, two levels higher than the Magpies, to a replay.

Two goals in the first half on Tuesday, the second from a disputed penalty, and a late third ended their hopes but the 3-0 score doesn’t tell the whole story.

The Magpies started very strongly and had plenty of chances.

Jack Woods’ rasping drive tested James Shaw in the home goal early on and on another day Spencer Clarke-Mardel’s header from a Dave Parkinson free-kick would have gone in and not straight to the keeper.

Shaw denied Clarke-Mardel again, tipping his 30-yard piledriver over the top, and Matt Taylor had the best chance with the score at 2-0, going in one-on-one with Shaw but coming out second best.

The Magpies’ cause wasn’t helped when they went down to 10 men following Isa Rotimi’s sending off for lashing out.

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He was being pulled back after evading a tackle but play was allowed to go on and his reaction brought the red.

However, that and the result won’t tarnish a fabulous adventure.

And the gem of the run came on Saturday in what chairman Martin Marlborough described as the “biggest game in our history”.

That saw the Magpies fightback from 3-0 down after 30 minutes to force a replay.

Callum Dudrenec’s penalty and goals from Jimmy Hill and Woods had sent the Recreation Ground into frenzy.

And it could have been even better had Hill’s header late on gone just under the bar rather than just over.

Magpies’ manager Ryan Thompson said: “I’ve got massive respect for the boys. They showed good character and they’re a good bunch of lads.

“It’s no fluke. The boys have done that themselves and thoroughly deserved it.”

But as one door closes, will another one open? Heath go to Hadley in the FA Vase on Saturday. Start of a new cup run?