St Ives Town manager Ricky Marheineke was left to reflect on defensive misfortune after his side’s FA Cup exit.
Saints were beaten 2-0 at fellow Step 3 side Stourbridge yesterday when being seen off by two headed goals in the space of 10 minutes from Leon Broadhurst.
Marheineke’s side were dealt two injury blows in the early stages of the second qualifying round tie as defender Lewis Ferrell and his replacement, Lee Chaffey, were both forced off.
It meant striker Danny Kelly, who scored a hat-trick in his previous game, had to fill in as an emergency centre-back for much of the contest.
“Losing one centre-half is tough enough to deal with, but to see two go off injured inside 20 minutes is far from ideal,” said Marheineke.
“Having to move a striker, who scored a hat-trick a few days earlier, into the heart of our defence was always going to blunt our attacking options.
“We knew Stourbridge were big and strong, and would cause problems from wide areas. Unfortunately we spent far too long stuck in our own half and gave them the opportunities to build pressure and play to their strengths.
“There was a bit more steel about us and a greater willingness to attack the ball, but the reality is that we have still conceded from a cross and a set piece. We also still need to be a bit better in possession.
“But I’m proud of the effort my players put in, but we were beaten by the better side on the day.”
Despite those enforced changes, Saints defended solidly throughout the opening period as the predicted aerial bombardment from a physical home side became a reality.
Northern League Premier Division side Stourbridge continued to apply pressure early in the second half and it was no surprise when they finally hit the front just before the hour.
Broadhurst buried a close-range header after being picked out by a left-wing cross from Tom Tonks to break the deadlock and the same player should have doubled the lead moments later when steering another effort over the bar.
A fine save from James Goff prevented Darryl Westlake from celebrating a second Stourbridge goal, but the home side were not to be denied as Broadhurst bravely nodded in after Jack Duggan headed a Tonks free-kick into his path.
Goalkeeper Goff, who has extended his loan stay from Northampton Town until the new year, denied Jordan Archer and substitute Ryan Rowe to prevent a heavier defeat, but Saints were rarely seen as an attacking force as they bowed out.