THERE was to be no dream debut for Woodley United in the FA Cup.
The Kestrels’ rise has been steep since Michael Herbert arrived as manager last summer, culminating in promotion to the Hellenic Premier Division, but they could not produce any heroics in the oldest cup competition in the world.
Facing fellow Hellenic side Tuffley, Woodley struggled during the first half and fell 2-0 behind to goals from Brett James and Ashley Davies.
Danny Horscroft pulled one back after the break, taking the honour of being the first man to score an FA Cup goal for Woodley. But the hosts could not grab an equaliser in front of a bumper crowd of 108, the club’s biggest since moving to Rivermoor.
Tuffley took the lead after 12 minutes, converting their dominant start with a well-placed James shot into the bottom corner.
Nathanael Robinson’s set pieces were looking like Woodley’s best route to goal, but the visitors went 2-0 up midway through the first half when Davies squeezed a shot through the hands of goalkeeper Alex Reed.
Jack Overthrow then clipped the crossbar as Rovers threatened a rout.
But whatever Herbert said at the break seemed to have worked as the home side looked much improved, going close through a Michael Porter header.
United introduced winger Marvin Hinds for the final 20 minutes, switching to a back three, and the change worked immediately as Hinds teed up Horscroft to curl in a wonderful effort from 25 yards.
Woodley certainly carried the momentum, trying to force a replay, with Jake Nicholls, Charlie Oakley and Horscroft all going close.
Tuffley were reduced to 10 men in injury time as goalscorer Davies was given his marching orders for a foul on Carl Prestidge, but they held on to dispatch of the Kestrels.
“That first half performance will be giving me nightmares for a few years,” commented manager Herbert.
Woodley return to league action on Saturday with their first ‘home’ game against groundshare partners Highmoor-Ibis (3pm).
WOODLEY: Reed, Greenwood, Barley (Hinds 72), Nicholls (c), I. Kamara, Porter, Drew, Ledger (Khomsi 60), Horscroft, Robinson (Prestidge 60), Oakley.
Subs not used: Davies, Beckett, Brown, Turner. Attendance: 108