One step too far for Whittlesey Athletic as historic FA Vase run ends
- Credit: Spencer Holl
It was just one step too far for Whittlesey Athletic’s history-makers as they exited this season’s FA Vase with their heads firmly held high.
A 6-0 defeat to Newport Pagnell Town at Feldale Field on Saturday marked the end of a giant-killing run for Whittlesey that included beating two step five clubs in the process.
Player-boss Ricky Hailstone admitted mistakes cost Athletic against their higher-league visitors, who scored three times in each half to seal a spot in the fourth round proper.
“They were better than us all over the park,” he said.
“It’s one of those games where if you make a mistake, you get punished and that’s the difference between them and some teams we play at step six.
“They were ruthless, defended brilliantly and full credit to them.”
After Danny Webb opened the scoring on 13 minutes, Whittlesey caved in as the Swans punished their lower-league opponents with intricate, attacking play.
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Striker James Hill-Seekings did hit the woodwork for Athletic, who reached the third round proper for the first time, in a game where chances were limited.
“They played more football than I may have given them credit for,” said Hailstone.
“I said to the lads that (defending) set pieces is crucial; their first goal came from a set piece and it went from there.
“We didn’t let ourselves down. We’ve been unbelievable to get to this point and probably shouldn’t be at this stage.”
Due to the financial reward from their FA Vase run, Whittlesey can now look towards developing the club’s ground, such as funding a new supporters’ stand.
On the pitch, Hailstone’s men were due to turn their attention to an Eastern Counties League (ECL) First Division North clash at Great Yarmouth Town tomorrow.
However, that has been postponed due to a Covid outbreak in the Yarmouth squad, and are next in action at home to Huntingdon Town on December 27.
“We’re growing as a club and things like the Vase make a huge difference to us,” he added.
“We’ve got to take the positives from a good Vase run, and if people keep coming, we can keep progressing and we’re on a win-win.”
*Wisbech Town ended a seven-game winless run with a 2-1 triumph at home to Corby Town in the Northern Premier League Division One Midlands.
Debutant Sam Bennett scored twice, including a last-minute winner, for the Fenmen.
In the ECL, March Town inflicted a second ECL Premier Division defeat on league leaders Gorleston with a 3-1 win – Jack Friend struck twice and Sam Garner also scored.
FC Parson Drove beat Huntingdon Town 3-1 in ECL First Division North, while Wisbech St Mary lost 7-0 at Needham Market Reserves.
On December 18, Wisbech are at Coleshill Town and March go to Haverhill Rovers.
Drove, who lost 5-0 at Ely City in a Cambs Invitation Cup first round tie on Tuesday, next face Wisbech St Mary in a Fenland derby on December 27.
Whittlesey Athletic: Aaron Bellairs; Ricky Hailstone, Jack Bates (sub Lewis Saunders, 75'), Jake Pell, Ollie Long, Aaron Dunmore (sub Dan Redhead, 54'), Ollie Gale, Harry Jenkins (C), Jack Carter (sub Matt Heron, 64'), James Hill-Seekings, Ben Cowles.
Unused subs: Elliott Gale, Kieran Hibbins, Alex Pacey, Lee Davison.
Cautions - Whittlesey: Gale, Saunders, Hailstone, Carter.
Man of the match: Jake Pell.
Referee: Mr Robert Holland.