Ide Hill slumped to their first defeat of the season on Saturday afternoon, going down 2-1 to South East Athletic in the First Round of the Challenge Cup.
Ide Hill, who were never really at the races, deservedly went behind after 15 minutes of concerted pressure from the visitors, with South East seizing on a multitude of errors and Darren Wynne firing in off the post from 20 yards.
Ide Hill rallied and enjoyed a good share of the subsequent possession and chances, with Callum Heath purposeful once more out wide and Matthew Bunn foraging and creating half chances for the team.
South East probably should have been further in front at the break, with the hosts escaping from a number of goal mouth scrambles in their own 6 yard box to gratefully get in to the interval at just 1-0 down.
The Ide hill defence, led by Ben Pearson and Luke Steggles, battled hard to keep the league leaders in the game against strong South East forwards who both exhibited excellent link up play.
Tom Wright worked tirelessly up front on his return to the starting line up, whilst George Kensell and Jaymes Randall provided strong width and support for the defence.
Joe Baker came on in the second half and provided vocal authority and aerial strength, whilst Sam Heasman pressed with energy and ran beyond the South East defence with purpose.
Ide Hill were gifted a chance to pull themselves level on the hour mark, though, as a soft penalty was awarded for pushing in the box following a corner. However, Craig Jackson could not capitalise, screwing a poor penalty wide to keep the visitors ahead as the clock ran down.
This miss was punished further as South East doubled their lead with ten minutes left, good build up play resulting in Barry Ryan firing in to the top corner from 10 yards out. Mike Mckay, who had a busy afternoon, played well and could do nothing about either of South East Athletic’s goals.
Ide Hill were rewarded for some concerted late pressure though, as Heath broke down the right and slid a perfect square ball across the penalty box to Jackson, who stepped inside the defender and slotted beyond the keeper with 5 minutes left.
However, the goal turned out to be little more than a consolation, as South East Athletic saw out the remaining minutes to progress through to the next round.
A disappointing afternoon’s work for Ide Hill, with the only solace coming with the fact that their league results remain unblemished, but knowing they will need to perform much better against other title rivals if they are to continue their good start through the winter.