Hythe Town 1-2 South Park
Hythe Town 1-2 South Park

A late thunderbolt from substitute Nathan Gordon wasn’t quite enough to keep Hythe Town in the Emirates FA Cup as South Park staged a smash and grab raid at Reachfields to progress.

Two goals in the early stages of the second half from Connor French and Leon Lalor-Dell gave Steve Watts side too much to do.

Although Frannie Collin saw an audacious over the shoulder effort come back off the bar, “all” they had to show for a concerted late effort was Gordon’s 82nd minute drive, which took a horrible bounce in front of keeper Craig Bradshaw, and the Cannons FA Cup dreams were over before they’d really begun.

Hythe started well enough with skipper Charlie Webster looking threatening early on with two dangerous early crosses, before the winger went closest in the opening stages with a driven cross that fizzed across the face of the South Park goal.

The visitors finally got into their stride and French was inches away from converting Liam Collins’ knock down from a corner before Harry Mack fired just wide from French’s good ball.

An intriguing opening half ended with both keepers making fine blocks with their legs, a combination of Bradshaw and Darryl Siaw denying Kane Phillip whilst Hythe keeper Ryan Nicholls really had to be alert to deny Lalor-Dell.

Indeed, a surprised Phillip could have put the home side ahead minutes after the break as Alex Brown somehow managed to squeeze the ball through to him from the goal-line, it appeared that Phillip wasn’t expecting the pass and snatched at the shot.

South Park then edged in front when French was played in behind the Hythe defence before drilling his low drive beyond Nicholls and into the bottom corner of the net.

Shortly after Mack tried a speculative volley from distance which Nicholls had to watch very carefully as it took a huge bounce off the Reachfields surface, before his opposite number made the save of the game to deny Collin.

A great run into the box from James Rogers saw Brown hit the deck and as the ball ran loose, Collin’s first time shot was heading to the bottom corner until the keeper stretched to make a great save.

The goal that sealed Hythe’s fate in some ways summed up their afternoon as the long ball forward glanced off one defender, wrong footing another and that allowed Lalor-Dell to score giving Nicholls no chance.

Hythe now had nothing to lose and pilled forward trying to bet back into the game and Collin then hit the bar for the home side moments before Gordon gave Hythe late hope, hope that sadly was extinguished by referee Wager’s final whistle after four minutes of stoppage time.

There will be inquests in the Hythe camp as to why they couldn’t at least force penalties and with their first scheduled League opponents for next weekend, Burgess Hill, having their own problems with positive COVID19 tests, it could be that Steve Watt has another fortnight to get things right before they play competitively again!

HYTHE TOWN – Nicholls, Smith, Dembele, Rogers, Beckwith, Wynter, Webster (Booth 80), Oldaker, Brown (Gordon 62), Collin, Phillip (Walmsley 62)

Subs – Williamson, Ihionvien, Trespaderne, Ibbertson

SOUTH PARK – Bradshaw, Pitt, Charles-Berry (Louis Collins 72), Savage, Siaw, Liam Collins, Lalor-Dell, Mack, French (Desanges 82), Owen, Bobumurodov (Francis 85)

Subs – Dukali, Mickley

REFEREE – Mr Leger