A poor peformance left Spalding United’s management to reflect on missing “a marvellous opportunity” in the FA Cup.
The Tulips crashed out as a late penalty settled Saturday’s second qualifying round tie at Evo-Stik League First Division South rivals Norton United.
They had drawn level before the break through an own-goal but Pat Rayment’s side never came close to hitting the form which had seen them smash six goals past league leaders Loughborough Dynamo in midweek.
Director of football Bob Don-Duncan admitted: “It’s very disappointing and, to be honest, it was a poor performance.
“We never got going and they caught us on our heels early on.
“Whether we have been reading our own headlines from midweek, I don’t know.
“We knew they were a hard-working side who put people under pressure and their strength is the frontmen.
“We were lethargic and we didn’t support ourselves well. We resorted to long balls and they coped admirably at times.
“In many ways it was a typical away cup performance where perhaps the team who consider themselves as underdogs battle away.
“Just as the game looked to be going to a replay, a bit of sloppy defending on our part led to the penalty which cost us.
“Pat was angry at half-time and full-time. You can understand that because Tuesday was our best performance so far.
“They had done their homework on us and put our players under pressure.
“We were second to balls, getting frustrated and we couldn’t get into any rhythm.
“In the end a few players started doing too much individually to create space and opportunities.
“We did have chances and their keeper made a couple of good saves.
“For the majority of the second half it looked like we might be able to grind out a draw and bring them back to Spalding for a replay.
“But overall it was a disappointing performance.
“This was a marvellous opportunity to play in the second qualifying round against a side from our league.
“Pat has put together a squad capable of doing very well in the division. Yet we have gone to Norton and not been able to grind out a result.
“Even if we didn’t play well and had drawn 1-1, we would have settled for that.
“But the winning goal came from a ridiculous situation where it looked like the ball would go out of play, Nathan Stainfield was hesitant and when it spun back he lunged at the player to give away a penalty.”
Spalding’s scheduled midweek game is off as Mickleover Sports have a cup replay so the Tulips return to league action at Sheffield on Saturday.
The home match against Norton on October 11 must be rearranged due to the FA Cup third qualifying round.