Wealdstone 1 Tiverton Town 2
Poor decision-making was to blame for Wealdstone's tame FA Trophy exit at the hands of Tiverton, according to boss Gordon Bartlett.
The hosts recovered from having conceded a first half goal against the run of play when David Hicks, enjoying his first start since that shirt-throwing incident at Harlow, smashed in the equaliser straight from a near-side corner.
However, the Stones failed to push on and it was the men from Devonshire who booked a third qualifying round trip to Bishops Stortford when rangy striker Phil Walsh picked his spot after Tivvy countered on the break.
"We came in at half time and I felt we had done an excellent job," said Bartlett. "I felt we were in control of the game and was confident we would pull it back. We did the first bit but failed to press on after that. Our decision-making was poor and we chose the wrong option on too many occasions, despite having more territory."
Bartlett was forced to start young central defender Darren Locke in place of injured skipper James Gray. He also gave a debut to Watford starlet Marvin Sordell. The 17-year-old Academy prospect has been knocking the goals in for the Hornets U18s and reserves and will hope to follow in the footsteps of Theo Robinson and John-Joe O'Toole, two youngsters who have flourished at Hereford United and Watford respectively, since being loaned out to the Stones by the Vicarage Road outfit.
Sordell knows he has to impress, as he will start with a clean slate for whoever is appointed to replace manager Aidy Boothroyd, who left the club by mutual consent on Monday.
Sordell was paired up front with another loanee, Gavin James, who received permission from parent club Maidenhead United to play in the competition. However, their lack of experience was clear for all to see, as they failed to keep Tiverton goalkeeper and Bristol Rovers coach, Steve Book, on his toes.
"We didn't force the goalkeeper into enough saves and he looked poor to me," conceded the Stones manager. "We were very much in the ascendancy after we scored and had our positive heads on when we forgot to do the basics - do not concede. Alan Massey gave their front man too much room but I can't be too harsh on him, as he has had a great season so far.
"I think we are good enough, but I need somebody who can put the ball in the back of the net."
Despite that warning, Bartlett is likely to persist with his untried, makeshift forward duo.
"I think Marvin is a gamble worth taking and it is one I will persevere with as long as Watford, and whoever takes over there, allow it to," he commented. "He is top scorer for their reserves, but I think perhaps the conditions and the fact he met the lads for the first time on the day was not really fair on him."
The weather certainly was not for the faint-hearted. Swirling, bitterly cold winds and driving rain made conditions at Grosvenor Vale hazardous.
And despite the Stones enjoying the best of the early stages, it was the visitors who took the lead on 27 minutes. Paul Jarvis created some room for himself on the edge of the 18 yard box before unleashing a low drive which zipped off the turf and beyond the despairing dive of Luke Woods.
Massey should have done better with a header while Sordell and James were getting no change from Tivvy's resilient defence.
Playing down the slope in the second half, and with the wind behind them, the Stones upped the ante, but Hicks drove a shot wide before Sordell's teasing cross went begging.
However, a home goal looked likely and it came shortly before the hour mark in the most bizarre fashion. Hicks whipped the ball in with pace to the near post and the bend of it, assisted by the gale force winds, eluded Book and crashed into the net.
James blasted just over from distance as Stones went in search of the winner but, as has been the case on several occasions this season, they switched off for a split second and paid the ultimate price.
From deep in their own half, Tiverton broke quickly down the right and Walsh collected a through ball in acres of space before placing the ball beyond Woods into the left corner of the net.
Bartlett threw on Graeme Montgomery, Ben Clarke and Nick
Salapatas, but Stones' best chance of a second equaliser fell to Ryan Ashe, who saw his pile-driver expertly tipped over by Book.
Wealdstone: Woods, Martin, Chappell, Locke, Massey, Ashe, Forbes, O'Leary, James, Sordell, Hicks.