Dunstable Town's FA Cup aspirations fell at the first hurdle on Saturday, after a nightmare second half saw an eventful game ending in a heavy defeat to North Greenford United of the Combined Counties League Premier Division North.
Things started brightly for the Blues, who had a penalty appeal waved away in the first minute of the game, in favour of a corner kick. Drew Phillips rose highest to meet the ball, heading firmly into the top corner of the goal, to the elation of the home contingent of the 148 fans in attendance.
It wasn't long before the visitors were level when Charlie Mitchell took a long ball down and found himself with only the goalkeeper to beat, which he duly did in the seventh minute.
Dunstable looked to keep up the frenzied pace of the early stages, and a brilliant turn by captain Chris Stapleton made plenty of space for him to play Phillips in, and with the angle tightening, it was only the post which could divert his effort.
Both sides had further chances in the first half, the best of which fell to United, whose striker was through on goal but was leaning back just as he struck his shot to the left of the goalframe.
L'Kharmi Gale was unable to direct a good cross from Matt Ellis goalwards for Town, and at halftime, the scores remained level.
The away team dominated from the outset of the second half and had two thumping attempts at goal before a fiftieth minute back post header by Samuel Olanipekun gave them the lead.
Less than a minute later and the advantage was doubled when Dunstable lost possession from kick-off, and when the ball arrived back at goalkeeper Gianluca Sinatra's feet, a poor pass was pounced upon, before being played into a grateful Harvey Killeen in the centre, who stroked the ball home.
Town showed little going forward in the second half, except for flashes of good interplay between Stapleton and returning fans-favourite Charles Black. Having used all available substitutions, a comeback looked even less likely when goalscorer Phillips was forced off with an injury, bringing the Blues down to ten men.
Shortly after a fine save denied North Greenford a fourth, there was nothing Sinatra could do when Joe Mills rifled a free-kick into the corner to put the game further beyond doubt.
Kevin Maresi completed the scoring with eight minutes left to play, with a composed finished low to Sinatra's left.
Town's misery was compounded further in the latter stages when they were forced down to nine men when Black had to go off with an injury.
A day to forget for Dunstable, who travel to Tring on Saturday for a league fixture.
Written by Patrick MacKay
Photos by Cupcake 99 Photography