FA Vase: Whitchurch Alport 1-2 Newport Pagnell Town - Report
Whitchurch Alport's Wembley dream came to an end as they were narrowly beaten by Newport Pagnell Town in the FA Vase last eight.
Captain Sean Griffiths handed Luke Goddard’s men a dream start as he fired home after three minutes - before Ben Shepherd levelled from the spot.
Danny Webb then put Pagnell ahead on the hour mark - and that proved to be the difference as despite some late pressure the Yockings Park men couldn't find a way back into the game.
It brought to an end a famous cup run for the Midland Football League side - who before this season hadn't progressed past the opening rounds of the competition.
Alport were given a huge boost ahead of kick off with the news top marksman and last round’s hat-trick hero Alex Hughes had been passed fit to lead the line.
However, Goddard’s men were without wide man Ivan Urvantev, who had been an influential figure for them in their run to the last eight.
The home side were backed by a record crowd inside Yockings Park - and they were treated to a dream start as Alport raced into a third minute lead.
Hughes broke down the left and crossed for Kieran Lazenby who calmly pulled the ball back for captain Griffiths to sweep home - sending the 1,200 fans inside the ground wild.
It was the start that Goddard and his side would have been hoping for in the build up - and it settled any early nerves.
For the next ten minutes it was a pretty even contest as both sides settled into the cup tie - before Pagnell hit back in controversial fashion.
Stopper Ellis Allen came out to punch a cross colliding with striker Jake Watkinson in the process.
The referee awarded Alport a free kick but after protests from the visitors the ref consulted his assistant and changed his decision to award a penalty - with Shepherd sending Allen the wrong way from the spot.
That started a spell of Pagnell pressure as the physical United Counties League outfit pumped some testing balls into the Alport box - but the backline and Allen were equal to them.
It had the feel of a proper cup tie by now - as momentum swung back to Alport with Lazenby stinging the hands of Martin Conway with a low drive.
Then on the half hour they carved open the Milton Keynes side with Hughes and Lazenby combining to set up Jud Ellis - but the former AFC Telford United man saw his effort parried by Conway.
Both sides were looking dangerous in the final third - as Jordan Wright headed wide for the visitors at the end of what had been an even first 45 minutes.
Ben Ford and Wright saw speculative efforts fly way over early in the second period for Pagnell - before Alport enjoyed a good spell of possession without carving out any clear cut chances.
However - with the home side on top it was Pagnell who struck completely against the run of play on the hour mark to get their noses in front.
The lively Watkinson’s long ball caught Alport cold at the ball and Webb latched onto the pass - before composing himself and slotting past the advancing Allen.
Seconds later it almost went from bad to worse as Christian Smalls went down in the box under pressure from Griffiths - but the referee waved away the penalty claims.
Alport rallied but were hit with another blow as leading goalscorer Hughes was forced off with an ankle knock 25 minutes from time - but his replacement Jacob Farleigh caused immediate problems for Pagnell.
His rasping cross was parried by Conway into the path of Griffiths who looped an effort over - before the pair again combined but the captain's tame header was easily gathered.
Pagnell almost sealed the tie 15 minutes from time as Alfie Powell's goal bound header was hooked off the line.
Alport were now having to throw caution to the wind in a bid to keep their Wembley dream alive - but in the process they were leaving themselves vulnerable to conceding a third.
Substitute Jim Burnside went close before Pagnell thought they'd won a second spot kick of the afternoon only for substitute Kieran Barnes to be penalised for diving seconds after coming on.
Pagnell were looking the more likely to score with Alport struggling to create - but they almost levelled in spectacular fashion in added time as Conway produced a superb save to tip over Amenku's effort from range.
And despite some late pressure the United Counties League side stood form as Alport's FA Vase journey came to an end.
Whitchurch: Allen, Campbell, J Griffiths, S Griffiths, Simms, Annikey, Hughes (Farleigh 68), Skelton (Amenku 85), Garlick, Ellis (Bath 76), Lazenby
Subs not used: Hall, Minshall, Carpenter, Flory
Newport Pagnell: Conway, Pryke (Markey 73), Sage, Small, Wright, Powell, Ford, Shepherd, Watkinson (Burnside 77), Webb Ahmed (Barnes 85)
Subs not used: Willett, Idiakhoa, Kelly, Lyons