Ampthill Town 1 Diss Town 0
Ten-man Diss Town had their FA Vase dreams shattered by a late goal from Ampthill Town super-sub Alvin Rajahan on Saturday.
The Tangerines lost centre-half Brendan Foley to two yellow cards on the hour-mark of a game they had every chance of winning until that point.
Ampthill took control after that and snatched victory in the dying minutes, although Diss boss Richard Daniels felt the home side’s Michael Lyon should also have seen red for his part in the scuffle that led to Foley’s dismissal.
“At the time I thought we were just about shading an ugly game and the red card was just a bad decision,” said Daniels. “It’s just another case of referees turning up, getting their money and going home.
“When he goes home, he hasn’t got to worry while he watches X Factor, while I have to sit there and worry about what the next game is going to bring.
“I’m upset for the supporters and the club because they deserve more.”
In a competitive game, punctuated by the shrill sound of the referee’s whistle on a far too regular basis, Diss belied their second-bottom position in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division against a side challenging in the upper echelons of the Spartan South Midlands Premier.
The home side looked potent in attack, but failed to get it together in the first half, with Diss enjoying the majority of territory without creating too many clear-cut chances.
Aaron Taylor headed Stuart Garner’s corner wide in the 15th minute, but it was the actions of Paul Ericson that denied the Tangerines the lead as he produced a goal-saving tackle on Adam Burroughs before blocking on the line from Mark Shadrack after goalkeeper Tom Kennard had flapped at another Garner corner.
In between, visiting custodian Matty Webster had brilliantly denied Michael Lyon from close range.
However, the whole complexion of the game changed on the hour-mark when, just nine minutes after receiving his first yellow card for unsportsmanlike conduct, Foley was shown his second following a scuffle with Michael Lyon on the touchline.
It appeared the Ampthill player was the aggressor, but referee Martin deemed that both players should receive a booking — which bore more significance to the Norfolk outfit.
After that, it was all Ampthill, who slowly turned the screw with Robbie Goodman somehow directing the ball wide from close range and the powerful and pacey Michaq McKenzie striking the foot of Webster’s right-hand post.
Dave Murphy, Lee Coulter and Tyrone Taylor were all a whisker away from snatching a place in the last 32, with Webster again on top form to deny McKenzie.
But, just as it looked extra-time would be needed, Webster could not grab Taylor’s left-wing cross and Rajahan stabbed home from a matter of yards to send Ampthill into the third round.
Express man of the match: Aaron Taylor.
Diss: Webster, Daniels, Garner, Shadrack, Foley, Taylor (Hunt 90+1), Cole, Steward, Burroughs (Gilding 62), Langlois, Easlea (Lambert 65). Subs not used: T Bryant, Brien.
n Jordan Rocastle scored twice as Diss Town Reserves beat Hadleigh United Reserves 2-0.