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FA Cup: Christchurch crash out at first hurdle
JUST 97 days after Wigan Athletic lifted the trophy at Wembley, missed chances saw Christchurch become one of the FA Cup’s first casualties of the new season.
On the eve of Latics’ Championship fixture at Dean Court, profligate Priory allowed a first half lead to slip in a spiky 2-1 defeat to Western League outfit Sherborne Town.
While the visitors had chances of their own, Christchurch created the better openings during the first half but fell to a sucker punch moments before the interval.
Dan Blackburn and Jacques Bernard were inches away from handing the hosts a 20th minute lead from Mark Smith’s inviting free kick before Raith Plant rattled the underside of the crossbar with a 25-yard pile-driver for Sherborne.
Veteran Smith opened the scoring eight minutes before half time, collecting the rebound from Blackburn’s stinging shot before cutting inside to apply a powerful finish.
Bernard, Sam Purdy and Dan Saul all could have doubled Priory’s lead before the interval but Sam Jarman’s delicious centre was steered inside the far post by Matt Day as the clock struck 45 minutes to level the tie for Town.
And when David Legg failed to clear a corner at the near post, Harry Turner plundered what proved to be Sherborne’s winner from a goalmouth scramble after 64 minutes.
Priory pushed for an equaliser but looked a spent force with boss Michael Cuffie admitting the visitors had run out worthy winners in the second half.
He said: “They deserved it because they wanted it more than us. We didn’t take our chances and, credit where it is due, they were hungrier than we were.
“We’ll be gracious in defeat because they came here and worked hard for their win.”
Meanwhile, Cuffie politely declined to comment on the vitriol targeted towards midfielder Mark Smith and the Christchurch dugout by Sherborne manager Jamie Manley during the match.
Priory: Frampton, Doe, Bernard, Speers, Legg, Blackburn (Cullen, 79), Smith, Fairbrother (Hoey, 62), Saul, Purdy (Frewin, 86), Burden. Unused subs: Walker, Jacobs, Homan, McGrath.
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