Video: Norwich United’s best ever FA Vase run is ended by 3-1 defeat at Ampthill Town
Norwich United’s best ever FA Vase run was brought to an end by free-scoring Ampthill Town in an entertaining encounter in Bedfordshire on Saturday.
The Planters were competing in the fourth round of the Vase for the first time in the club’s history, but came up against stiff competition in the form of a side who top the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division and went into the game with a record of 15 wins in 18 games, scoring 66 goals and conceding just 13.
A hat-trick from winger Phil Draycott earned the win, but United boss Damian Hilton felt his side didn’t perform to their potential.
“It was tough,” Hilton said. “They came out really strongly early on, but I’m kind of disappointed when you leave a game and feel you maybe could have done better because of silly mistakes and things like that; in games that costs you and it cost us today.
“They had two lads who are very good in the air and they kind of bombed it on really. The wide left winger (Draycott) was good but the first goal obviously put us on the back foot and them on the front foot, which at this stage of the competition, to let a goal in like that is hard to take really.”
For more reaction from Planters boss Hilton, press play on the video above.
Ampthill could have been reduced to 10 men in just the fifth minute though, after a crunching studs-up challenge from centre-back Steven Flux on striker Paul Cook.
Referee Ben Cooke was clearly trying to keep the game calm in its early stages though, often dishing out lengthy verbal warnings in the early stages, and with Cook not making much of the challenge, Flux escaped punishment.
Draycott scored his first in the 10th minute from a free-kick wide on the right. His left-footed cross was misjudged by Planters keeper Ben Nower, who tried to palm the ball over his crossbar, but didn’t make good contact and the ball dropped into the net.
Much of the attention from the Norwich players, understandably, was focused on Ampthill’s 34-goal top scorer and Andy Carroll lookalike, Danny Watson.
That allowed Draycott to steal the show, scoring an excellent goal to take control of the tie in the 32nd minute. The winger cut in from the right, weaved past two defenders and then bent a low left-footed shot underneath Nower and into the bottom left-hand corner.
Nower brilliantly denied Christian Lester, who got on the end of a deep cross from Mark Bunker, but in the 57th minute the lively Draycott completed his hat-trick to secure victory for Ampthill.
The Planters did at least rally in the closing stages. Substitute Jamie George was hauled down in the Ampthill box in the 79th minute and Adam Bennett made no mistake with the resulting penalty, powering his spot-kick into the bottom-left corner.
Bennett and striker Matt Blake both had long-range efforts, but Norwich weren’t able to find a way back into the game and it is Ampthill who go into the hat for today’s fifth-round draw.
The Planters were the last Norfolk team in the Vase – although just across the border Wisbech are still in it after a 2-1 away win at Ashington – and will now have to re-focus their efforts on the league. They have lost their last two matches in the Thurlow Nunn Premier and face a tough task to avoid a fourth successive defeat when they travel to league leaders Hadleigh United next Saturday.
For video reaction from Norwich United manager Damian Hilton, press play on the video above.
Norwich United: Ben Nower; Jamie Speller, Steve Shipley, Tom Jeal, Lee Mason; Adam Bennett, Gavin Lemmon (Scott Woodgate 64), Andrew Eastaugh (Jamie George 53), Gary Gilmore (Ben Jones 53); Paul Cook, Matthew Blake. Subs not used: Adam Gusterson, Ian Hunter
Goal: Adam Bennet (pen) 79
Ampthill Town: Martin Conway; Dave Murphy, Robbie Goodman, Steven Flux Gary Ridgeway; Warren Garcia (Clark 76), Tyrone Taylor, Mark Bunker, Phil Draycott (Cooksley 90); Christian Lester, Danny Watson. Subs not used: Holmes, Rataran, Coulter
Goals: Phil Draycott 10, 32, 57