Assistant manager Steve Whiting felt Broadbridge Heath’s at times ‘dominant’ performance deserved more than it got in their first take of the FA Cup for 13 years on Saturday.
The Bears had a difficult draw away to Southern Counties East Premier Division side Sevenoaks Town who finished third place in their league last season.
A 3-1 defeat somewhat flattered their hosts as a late goal put a gloss on the scoreline in the extra preliminary round clash.
The task was made even more tricky for Steve Painter’s side with several senior players unavailable for the match and that meant a new pairing at centre-half of Kyle Sim, 17, and midfielder Shaun Findlay.
A Scott Weller goal had levelled the scores at 1-1 at the break and assistant manager Steve Whiting said: “The late goal came when we were chasing the game at 2-1 and we actually felt unfortunate to be behind.
“We did dominate for lengthy periods, but a couple of individual errors cost us and we did not take our chances when we had them. It was one of those days when it did not run for us and I felt a turning point was their penalty in the second half.
“We dominated the first 25 minutes and their goal came from a penalty decision from a handball that was questionable whether it was inside the box - it was difficult to tell, but went against us.
“After that we had two good opportunities and our own penalty shout not given. We were missing a number of players and had no first-choice centre-backs, although the two that stepped in did well. We only had one available striker as well, that was Tim Martin and he caused them lots of problems in the first half.”
Heath created the first opening in the third minute when Rob Godfrey’s cross was headed just wide of the post by Tim Martin. At the other end, the hosts broke through but their striker pulled his shot wide of Michael Chester’s post.
A clumsy challenge by Sim on 15 minutes gave the home side a free kick just outside the penalty area, the ball was drilled straight into the wall, but after the rebound was charged down by defenders, it fell kindly for Tom Young who shot low into the net.
The Bears responded with Sim heading a Scott Weller corner wide and Martin rifling a right-foot shot straight into keeper Graig Holloway’s midriff. Martin came close again by heading a Jamie Robinson cross just wide.
The equaliser came just before the break as Weller’s 35-yard free kick cannoned off the inside of the keeper’s right post and Martin’s header was cleared, before Weller struck home through the crowded penalty area.
Heath continued to create the better openings in the second period with George Cousins twice going close, but the game changed in the 71st minute when Findlay was judged to have handled in the area, despite the protests that it was at point-blank range and outside the area, the referee awarded a penalty and Joe Bingham converted.
A Weller shot after a scramble beat the Sevenoaks keeper, but struck team-mate Martin on the back and was cleared. Cousins then setup Jahobi Maher with a great chance but the striker misjudged the flight of the ball and the chance went begging.
Tom Bold split the defence with an inch-perfect pass into Martin who appeared to be fouled in the box but the referee waved play on as the ball came out to Weller, he put it over the bar.
With the 90 minutes up, Heath were awarded a throw near the halfway line, Findlay tried to throw it back to his keeper but the wet ball slipped out his grasp and went straight to a Sevenoaks forward who slipped inside to team mate Darren Marsden for a simple tap-in as Heath were dumped out of the FA Cup.
The Bears are expecting to have a number of players back for their Premier Division opener with Chichester City on Saturday.
Whiting added: “It’s a tough start for us, but we are looking forward to it. We will have one or two back and look to start the season in a strong fashion. Squad wise we are very confident we have got good strength and as in previous years we want to keep improving as a side and hopefully push into the top six.”
Heath: M.Chester, Godfrey, Robinson, Findlay, Sim, Bold, Weller, Parson, Martin, Cousins, Ja Maher.