Hopes of a glory run in the FA Vase were dashed when South Normanton Athletic suffered a narrow defeat at the hands of Radford in the Second Qualifying Round.
Despite a rousing finish, Normanton went down 2-1 to their high-flying East Midland Counties League, Premier Division rivals, who have yet to be beaten so far this season.
Now they return to league action this Saturday (kick-off 3 pm) with another difficult away trip -- this time to undefeated tabletoppers Ashby Ivanhoe, who have won ten of their 12 matches.
In front of a crowd of 52 at Selhurst Street, Normanton were on the back foot from the 13th minute when the Nottingham side took the lead with a cracking goal. A burst down the right flank led to a cross for Jared Russell, who turned and laid the ball to the back post where Carey James Knight thumped a classic strike just inside the post from ten yards.
The goal signalled a spell of heavy pressure from Radford until the visitors slowly got into their stride and posed some danger of their own. A shot by Luke Crosby was on target but was deflected wide before Tom Lewis cut inside from the left for a drive from 18 yards that tested the home ‘keeper.
Lewis was in the thick of things again just before the interval as he turned in front of goal for a terrific shot that brought another fine save from the Radford goalie.
Normanton continued to look quicker and sharper at the start of the second period, with substitute Micky Lyons making a big difference. However, Radford refused to read the script and doubled their lead in the 70th minute where a good cross found Jahred Ishmail Jahmahn unmarked on the penalty spot to take a touch and drill into the bottom corner.
To their credit, the visitors refused to buckle and upped their workrate to create more chances. They halved the deficit seven minutes from time when a Kane Jellyman corner found Lee Fell, whose initial header was blocked but whose follow-up effort struck the net. However, in a tense finale, they couldn’t force extra-time, with penalty claims being waved away by the referee after Ash Whitt appeared to have been brought down in the box.
Radford duly progressed to the First Round proper of the competition and were handed a home tie against AFC Bridgnorth.