The Magpies welcomed many people's favourites for the league title, Shoreham to Plaistow Road for their first home match of the season. There were three changes to the side that drew at Worthing United 3 days earlier: Ollie Gill came in for Ross Swaine in midfield; Lewis Scally covered for the injured Harry Bachelor; and Harrison Hilfiker replaced Sam Smith in goal after the latter suffered a knock in the aforementioned match.
The visitors, with their myriad of signings from the higher levels started the match all guns blazing and attacked their host's backline with great intensity, keen to make early in-roads and it wasn't long until they did just that. In the 8th minute a corner was swung in from the right and despite Hilfiker's best efforts he was beaten to the ball by Gaskin who glanced a header inside the far post to give the Musslemen the lead.
They were to double their lead just another 8 minutes later, and again from a head. This time good work down the right flank created the space for a wickedly, whipped cross to be put in and it O'Toole that rose well at the near post to power home the second goal of the night.
It really should have been all over after 30 minutes, when Lewis Scally was correctly adjudged to have brought down a Shoreham play in the area, however, O'Toole stepped up all too casually and duly planted his kick against the bar. Along with a change in tactics by manager Mark Beard, this finally appeared to spark the Magpies into life and for most of the remaining hour, only one side was making the running.
Ollie Gill had a header well tipped over by Josh Heyburn and then followed it up with a driving run from midfield before unleashing a shot, which the 'keeper was able to hold on to. Despite the halftime score, the host were buoyed as they went in at the break.
The momentum was retained after the break and with that the visitor's began to lose patience with each other and chances began to be fashioned. Gill had another effort saved on 50 minutes and soon afterwards undertook some clever work in channel before pulling the ball back to Toby House, but the young striker's shot was straight at the 'keeper. Joel Colbran advanced from left back to have the next shot on goal, which forced Hayburn to scramble to secure the ball at the second attempt.
The pressure was slowly beginning to tell and the frustration was evident as if Shoreham's players found themselves in the book for a combination of cynical and petty fouls. Despite this, the quality of the visitors was never far away. On 68 minutes Ryan Storrie bent an excellent free kick from distance out wide that struck the far top corner of the woodwork with Hilfiker well beaten. This didn't deter the men in white though and they maintained their ascendancy.
Early substitute Cecil Jee was repeatedly getting joy down the left flank against Jack Hartley but it was actually down the opposite side that Loxwood finally got their reward. Tom Summerfield drove forward in the 75th minute, gained some space and then delivered a fierce, low cross that gave Mark Cave all the pace he needed on the ball as he ran across his marker and calmly ensured a solid connection to guide the ball inside the near post with Hayburn's hand not strong enough to keep it out.
With the sniff of a point on offer, the hosts continued to press, but Shoreham's defence suddenly became infinitely more organised and found it easier to repel the waves of forward pressure that was being put upon them as a result. Ultimately the Magpies were unable to recover from a start that showed too much respect to a side that admittedly had quality in its ranks, but not to a degree that it should subdue our own capabilities and personality.
Team: Cave, Colbran, French (Jee 30), Gill, Jacques, Hilfiker, House (Wood 65), Napper, Scally, Summerfield & Williams Subs unused: M Beard, Haulkham & Swaine