Windsor 0, Harefield United 2
An own goal from Ryan Bird and a sublime second-half strike from former Ascot United striker Harry Laflin condemned Windsor to an early exit in the FA Vase on Saturday afternoon.
Under manager Mick Woodham, the Royalists have had a great affiliation with the tournament in the past, so it was bitterly disappointing to see them crash out in the second qualifying round.
Bird – playing under a double sign-up with Slough Town – was unlucky enough to be credited with the game’s first goal in the 25th minute.
From Trey Pender-Brown’s teasing cross, the 34-year-old cast a defensive eye over goalkeeper Conail Ryan and into the back of the net.
A string of notable chances followed but the Hares were only able to double their advantage in the 67th minute thanks to a compound finish from Laflin.
“We weren’t at our best today,” Bird said of the full-time performance. “I haven’t been here for the past few weeks so I haven’t seen how the boys are playing.
“The first goal, the ball goes in and it goes out of my head and got wrapped around – there’s nothing you can do about it. The second goal, I think they were offered it.
“Really, they haven’t had too many opportunities. We were just missing that final pass through the goal or the tip in front of him.
Conor McShane recorded Windsor’s first chance in the 10th minute – a low-range drive that whistled wide of the woodwork.
Four minutes later, Richard Pacquette – better known as ‘Pac-Man’ to the outside support – tested Ryan’s reflexes with a ferocious effort from outside the box.
The next example of note was Bird’s own goal, but the Hares have nearly doubled their advantage since the restart when Steven Green linked up with Pacquette.
Robinson pricked the palms of Joe Ringer in the 36th minute as the Royalists put more men on the pitch towards the end of the first half.
After the interval, Woodham turned to his bench with James Rogers-Oben coming to sit in front of the defensive line.
Just after the hour mark, however, the substitute was nowhere to be found when Samuel Shaw grazed the roof of Ryan’s net with a delightful effort.
Experienced Barry Hayles was brought on in the 64th minute for Teddy Woodisse while Joseph Brown replaced Shaw for Harefield.
The visitors found themselves 2-0 down in the 67th minute when Laflin stepped on the ball from a Windsor throw-in and fended off a finish.
On the other side, in a flash, Hayles obediently nodded into the Hares keeper from close range before Joseph Brown aimed a shot wide.
Seemingly unstable on two goals, Pacquette and Laflin both had significant scoring chances in the final 10 minutes of the game, but were stifled by Ryan.
Windsor, meanwhile, tried once more to score before the referee called a halt to the game – Tyler Robinson smashing an effort off the crossbar when well placed.