A series of defensive errors cost Town dearly, as they crashed out of the F A Trophy, against a rampant Stockport County.
Two early crosses from County’s, Sam Minihan, were easily dealt with by the home defence, while Town’s, Liam Kitching’s break out of defence, ended with a shot from distance which was well off target.
However, three goals in the space of four minutes brought the game to life.
On eighteen minutes, Jack Emmett broke down the right and his dangerous low cross was sliced into his own goal by County defender, Jordan Keane.
Within three minutes, the Hatters were level, when Sam Walker’s free kick after Lloyd Kerry’s foul, was only cleared as far as Darren Stephenson, who found Adam Thomas in space on the right and he fired across James Belshaw into the far corner of the net.
Hardly had the visitor’s cheers died down, when Kitching under hit a back pass to Belshaw and Frank Mulhern nipped in to net County’s second.
Although a Mark Beck header flashed across goal and Jack Muldoon shot into the side netting from twenty yards, Town were finding it hard going against a well organised County defence.
Late in the half, a superb strike from George Thomson forced Ben Hinchcliffe into a diving save to parry the ball away, but there were no Town players near enough to take advantage.
Any hopes that the Town faithful entertained of a second half fight back, were dealt an early blow, when the ever reliable, Warren Burrell’s back pass to Belshaw fell short , enabling Matty Warburton to round the keeper for County’s third.
Town tried to hit back and an exquisite, defence splitting pass from Josh Falkingham played in Thomson, but his shot just evaded the far post.
Aaron Williams replaced Muldoon on seventythree minutes and he almost scored immediately when Hinchcliffe blocked his close range effort, before the ball was booted clear off the line.
But with only ten minutes left, Mulhern put the Hatters into the next round of the Trophy, when he dispossessed Thomson in the centre circle and raced clear to round Belshaw and shoot past the covering defenders for County’s fourth.
As the disappointed home crowd began to drift homewards, an excellent late Town consolation goal gave them something to cheer.
Falkingham released Ryan Fallowfield down the right and his low centre was blasted in by Thomson to make the score a bit more respectable.
So Town’s Wembley dream is over for another season, but there is still a play off place to fight for in the league.
Belshaw, Fallowfield, Falkingham, Howe(Senior 84), Burrell, Thomson, Emmett(Leesley 63), Beck, Kerry, Muldoon(Williams 73), Kitching.
Unused subs, Cracknell, Woods. Booked Kitching Man of the Match Kerry.
Scorers, Keane (OG 18), Thomson 88. Att.1142
Hinchcliffe, Minihan, Duxbury, Keane, Palmer, Baines, Thomas, Walker, Mulhern(Kirby 83), Warburton(Cowan 66), Stephenson(Turnbull 75).
Unused subs, Ormson, Osbourne. Booked Baines
Scorers, Thomas 21, Mulhern 22, 80, Warburton 48.
Referee M Woods
By John Harrison