Broadbridge Heath are just eight wins away from Wembley as they advanced past Kensington Borough in the FA Vase on Saturday.
The Bears had already exceeded their best-ever run in the competition by reaching the first round proper and a home draw against a Kensington side who play at Step 6, a division lower, gave Steve Painter’s side a real opportunity to make further progress.
That they did with a 3-0 success which set up a second round away tie with Horsham YMCA’s conquerors Thatcham Town, bagging £825 prize money in the process.
Early Heath pressure resulted in a series of corners, one of which saw Tim Martin come close with a shot that was saved by keeper Jake Ward .
Minutes later, Scott Weller steered a cross from Martin just wide of the post but the breakthrough came on 16 minutes when a short corner was played to George Cousins who ran at the defence and fired home from 22 yards.
Heath continued to put pressure on the visitor’s defence who were struggling to clear their lines and not helped by the gale force winds against them.
Jamie Robinson’s cross from the left found Devon Fender in space at the far post and his first-time shot went across the face of goal and narrowly wide of Ward’s right-hand post. Weller’s inch-perfect through ball allowed Fender to give chase but this time the wind came to Borough’s rescue with the ball going through to a very grateful keeper.
The visitors had a great chance to equalise on 30 minutes when a rare attack ended with the ball played into Jacwad Zipni, but his shot went across the goal and rebounded off the right post.
Heath continued to push forward and Ward did well to prevent a Robinson cross from dropping into the net and the keeper was in action again just before the break to deny Martin with a save on the line.
Heath started the second half on the attack and Martin again found himself in a good shooting position, but blasted the ball over the crossbar from 15 yards.
On 55 minutes, Fender advanced down the right flank and whipped in a cross to an unmarked Alex Parsons who nodded it in from a yard.
Two minutes later it was game over when Parsons fed the ball through to Cousins who buried it past Ward for his 10th goal of the season.
Heath continued to dominate play as Kyle Sim headed just over, Stuart Chester’s diving header went inches over the bar and Tom Bold, who rifled a shot straight at Ward from the edge of the box.
The best chance came in the final seconds when Zac Massey, Fender and Martin broke away with just one defender to beat, Massey, on the left with the ball drew the opponent and played a pass into his team-mates on the edge of the area, but Martin blasted way over the bar.
Broadbridge Heath: M.Chester, Whiting (Sim 70), Robinson, Chester, Findlay, Bold, Weller (Fuller 68), Parsons, Fender, Cousins (Massey 80), Martin.