Steyning Town were dumped out of the John O’Hara Cup at the first hurdle with a disappointing 3-1 defeat away to Wick & Barnham United on Tuesday night.
United were playing their first competitive home game since their summer merger and a healthy turnout created a good atmosphere.
The hosts controlled possession early on, though the Town back four held firm with Ashley Finch dominant in the early stages to deny a limited number of chances.
Steyning slowly managed to get a foothold in the game, with David Marsh and Jake Mills combining well on the right hand side on a number of occasions and Matt Dodd and David Harris in the centre started to move the ball around nicely.
It was after 11 minutes that the first talking point occurred when Steyning thought themselves unfortunate not to be ahead.
The ball broke from the group of players on the edge of the Wick box and Adam Burton hit a cracking snap shot form 25 yards that dipped over the keeper and in to the next. However as he shot the ref blew for a freekick and the goal was disallowed.
Wick them missed a great chance from a cross from the right, while at the other end, after some neat interplay Maz Williams found himself through on goal but from a tight angle his well-struck shot was saved by the home keeper.
Just as the first half looked like it would be drifting towards a goalless conclusion Steyning became the masters of their own downfall.
A misplaced pass in their own half when under no real pressure saw the ball broke to Wick player Howard, who strode forward and hit a cracking strike low into the bottom corner for the lead at the break.
The home side came out for the second half looking much the hungrier side and most of the action was taking place in the Steyning half with the back four starting to play deeper and deeper.
After 55 minutes a sublime ball was played through to the Wick number nine Noble, who had make a great run between the Steyning central defenders and took the ball in his strike and lashed his shot beyond Evans to make it 2-0.
It was now all the hosts, although the introduction of Callum Towse and Rob Clark did spring some life into Steying, youngster Clark particularly impressive with some excellent runs upfront.
On the hour Williams struck a decent chance wide for Steying, while only a last-ditch tackle denied Harris as he raced through the home defence.
Steyning did get back into the game on 72 minutes. The impressive Mills picked the ball up wide on the right and cut inside before hitting a cracking shot from 25 yards which flew into the net. An early contender for goal of the season.
The visitors pushed for an equaliser, though Wick remained a threat on the break and at the death the hosts sealed progression into Round Two when some tired defending allowed Mark Pedrick to fire home from close range.