Long Eaton’s FA Cup run ended at the first hurdle on Saturday as Midlands Football Alliance side Dunkirk took the honours at Grange Park.
United had won their opening two league games, including an exhilarating midweek performance against Staveley MW, but Saturday’s display was hugely disappointing.
The initial stages of the contest saw United begin fairly brightly with Matt Savage and Shaun Rickford combining well on a couple of occasions, but the visitors quickly began to settle after a hesitant start and impose their influence on proceedings.
Scott Miles in United’s goal was the busier of the two ‘keepers during the first-half, pulling off two good saves, and the visitors also squandered a couple of clear cut chances midway through the half.
For United, Blaine Hancock and Jacob Webster each sent shots wide of James Mountain’s goal and a Kelvin Mushambi run past two Dunkirk defenders brought no reward.
United were unable to shake off their collective lethargy in the second-half and despite the obvious work-rate of the players, they often appeared heavy-legged and seemed to have run out of ideas well before the visitors eventually took the lead.
The Dunkirk goal typified United’s afternoon after possession was surrendered in the final third and Jaylee Hodgson raced away to slot a low drive past the outstretched lunge of Miles in United’s goal.
Despite the goal, United were unable to raise their game sufficiently enough to produce the vital ingredient that would create an opening and most of their approach play broke down before any meaningful pressure was exerted on the visitors defence.
Elliot Perry, Duane Barton and Elliot King were all introduced from the bench in an effort to inject something different but their emergence failed to provide any impact of note.
Savage had the best opportunity in the closing stages but his effort was saved by Mountain after he had cleverly found the space to finally open up the Dunkirk rearguard.
After a less than rousing90 minutes, the visitors dutifully progressed in the competition and in doing so consigned United to their third consecutive first hurdle defeat during an encounter in which too many of United’s players suffered an off-day.
This Saturday, United are back in league action when they visit Lincoln Moorlands and will have the opportunity to put their downbeat exit from the FA Cup behind them.
United: Miles, J Hunter, Littlewood, Armstrong, Jones (King 83), Webster, Mushambi, Hancock (Barton 75), Savage, Hancock, Martin (Perry 59).