Curzon Ashton bowed out of the FA Cup on Saturday (November 4) after a narrow 1-0 defeat at home to National League side Barnet.
It was the visitors who started the better of the two sides, dominating possession early on and showing their quality. Their first chance of the game came through winger Idris Kanu, who cut inside from the left and fired his shot just over.
Kanu was involved again moments later when his cutback found Finlay Potter, whose pinpoint cross was headed in at the back post by Nicke Kabamba, giving the Bees the lead.
The away side showed no signs of letting up after going ahead and continued to apply pressure, going close once again through Idris Kanu, who forced goalkeeper Cam Mason into a smart stop down to his right.
Hosts Curzon created their first meaningful opportunity of the afternoon just past the hour mark when midfielder Adam Barton latched onto a cross from the right and sent his diving header just wide. He ought to have done better, but his blushes were saved by the linesman’s raised flag for offside.
The Nash were then dealt a huge injury blow when the aforementioned Barton was forced off just before half time and was replaced by player-manager Craig Mahon.
Mahon changed the game for the home side, helping them retain possession much more effectively and create a few chances of their own.
They began to get a lot of joy in wide areas, through their wing-backs, with Will Hayhurst finding space in behind the Barnet defence before being brought down by defender Connor Stevens, who was shown a second yellow card for the challenge and given his marching orders.
The change in atmosphere after Stevens’ dismissal was palpable, with the home crowd smelling blood.
From then on the Curzon players grew in confidence and they created their best chance of the afternoon on the stroke of half-time when Will Hayhurst burst past his man down the left, cutting the ball back to the onrushing Craig Mahon who produced a fine piece of skill to find space for the shot, his effort was blocked with the rebound falling to Jimmy Spencer whose right-footed strike was then cleared off the line.
Those inside the ground perplexed as to how the ball stayed out in what was a real goal-mouth scramble.
The Nash began the second half how they ended the first, going close to scoring once again just before the hour mark when Craig Mahon’s looping volley was tipped over by Laurie Walker in the Barnet goal, this was no doubt the closest they had come to scoring in the match.
Just past the hour mark came a moment of huge controversy, Curzon thought they had found an equaliser through Jimmy Spencer when the forward latched onto Craig Mahon’s cross and headed the ball home, only for the goal to be disallowed for offside.
Replays have shown Spencer was in fact in an onside position when the cross came in, and so the goal should have stood.
A bitter pill to swallow for the hosts, who were robbed of a perfectly fine goal at what would’ve been the perfect time to score.
This seemed to take the wind out of Curzon’s sails, and they almost went 2-0 down when Devon Matthews’ horror back pass found forward Callum Stead, who took it round the onrushing goalkeeper, but with the goal gaping, the Barnet number 10 fluffed his lines and the ball cannoned off the post and out for a goal kick.
There was little to report on throughout the final moments as The Nash pushed for an equaliser but failed to create anything of note, with the away side seeing the game out well.
The win sees Barnet through to the second round proper of the FA Cup, where they will face Newport County of League Two.
As for Curzon, they bow out of the competition with their heads held high, knowing they gave absolutely everything, but it simply wasn’t meant to be.