Eynesbury Rovers’ historic run in the FA Vase came to a heartbreaking conclusion yesterday.
The local club bowed out of the national competition in the last 32 after being stung by a spectacular comeback from fellow Spartan South Midlands League side Leighton Town.
The visitors roared back from the dead to snatch a 4-3 success at Hall Road which was inspired by a late hat-trick from substitute Ashton Campbell.
His exploits included a stoppage-time decider as Eynesbury were left to rue throwing away a two-goal cushion.
Rovers assistant boss Ash Fuller admitted: "It's a game we should have won as we were very much in control when ahead in the second half.
"For not the first time this season we didn't go on and really thump a team after getting into the position to do that.
"The players admitted afterwards that they let themselves down with how the game got away from us."
Leighton drew first blood when Eynesbury defender Jack Uttridge looped a header over goalkeeper Jamie Greygoose and into his own net.
But they quickly recovered from that sixth-minute blow to level when leading scorer Jordan Brown earned a penalty which was coolly converted by Craig Daniel.
Debutant striker Connor Calcutt was then denied in a one-on-one situation but Eynesbury did succeed in gaining an advantage when striking twice in quick succession in the second half.
Daniel completed the turnaround on the hour when firing through a crowded penalty area and Rovers appeared to be well on course for victory when Brown headed in his 19th goal of the campaign after being picked out by a Scott Sinclair corner.
But Town's introduction of Campbell proved to be a masterstroke as he spearheaded a dramatic fightback.
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Campbell cut the visitors' arrears when nodding in with 14 minutes to go and dragged them level with seven minutes to go with another header.
And Campbell completed his star-turn in the first minute of additional time when racing onto a Ben Pattie pass and firing past Greygoose at his near post.
Rovers, who had battled through five previous rounds during their best ever Vase run, were unable to respond as they bowed out.
Fuller added: "We started really nervously and that showed with the early error for the own goal that gave Leighton the lead.
"Oddly that actually settled us down and we dominated a lot of the possession from then, and got the goals to show for it.
"At half-time we felt we would get the next goal and go on to win the game. "We did the first part of that by scoring and then following it up with a third.
"But we then probably made the mistake of thinking we had the game won with 20 minutes to go.
"It got a bit frantic of the pitch as Leighton came back at us. They were able to bring on a natural goalscorer in Ashton Campbell and he made the difference.
"It's been a bit of yo-yo season of good results and poor ones in the league, but the lads did very well in the Vase and we're all disappointed with how it ended."
A bumper crowd of 469 was treated to plenty of entertainment although the action on the pitch was unfortunately overshadowed by ugly scenes in the aftermath when a number of Leighton fans invaded the Hall Road pitch and attempted to incite Eynesbury supporters.
That matter has been reported to the Spartan South Midlands League and Football Association for investigation.
Rovers return to action at Aylesbury Vale Dynamos in the Premier Division tomorrow night (Tuesday) before hosting table-topping Colney Heath this Saturday, 3pm.