Larkhall soar through but Bitton bow out of FA Vase
Larkhall Athletic are flying the flag for the Toolstation League after they soared into the last 16 of the national competition while Bitton bowed out.
A 2-1 win over East Sussex side Peacehaven & Telscombe has set up a home tie for the Larks against either Vase holders Dunston UTS or Tunbridge Wells on Saturday, February 9.
And it was just reward for the effort put in by an army of volunteers to ensure that Plain Ham was in a fit state to stage the fourth-round game after a week of snow and rain.
Larkhall took a while to get going and found themselves behind after 15 minutes when a deflected effort wrong-footed keeper Chris Snoddy.
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But they drew level on the half-hour mark when excellent work by Kieran Baggs earned a free-kick, which Nat Auckland brilliantly curled home to give the Peacehaven keeper no chance.
And it was another set-piece which led to Larkhall taking a 48th-minute lead, with Simon Gilbert picking himself up following a foul to coolly score from the penalty spot.
Injury meant he immediately had to be replaced by Tom Welch but the hosts defended resolutely for the remainder of the half to book their place in the fifth round for a second successive year.
While it was a day to remember for Larkhall, it was one to forget for fellow Toolstation Premier Division side Bitton as they lost 2-0 to Northern League outfit Shildon.
Trailing to Rob Briggs’ deflected shot, Bitton’s task got even tougher in the second half when Hanin Rohmdame was dismissed for a handball.
Keeer Sam Alexander saved the subsequent spot-kick from Briggs but was beaten by a later penalty from Mark Hudson as the side from County Durham made comfortable progress.