The Magpies boarded the coach and made the long trip to Sheppey of the Southern Counties East League hoping to get past the first hurdle of the Buildbase FA Vase, which they failed to do at AFC Croydon last year. The team news wasn't great as they travelled without midfielders Byron Napper and Ross Swaine (absent), Tom Familton (injured) and Sam Smith (suspended), but they welcomed back Alfie Gritt from his recent absence and he led the line alongside Tiago Andrade with Ollie Moore dropping into the midfield.
The visitors begun the game slightly the brighter of the two sides, but it was the hosts that had the first clear sight of goal when Trey Williams got on the end of a Timmy Babbington cross 10 yards out but Brendan Milborrow showed fantastic reflexes to push the ball up and over the bar. The Magpies had to wait until the 20th minute for their first effort to test Adam Highsted in the Sheppey goal, but the home stopper comfortably held Andrade's shot following Michael Wood's good work. This ushered in a period of dominance for Loxwood as they thwarted the Ites' game-plan whilst causing problems of their own down the flanks. And is from such an attack 11 minutes before the break that they deservedly took the lead. Joe Holvey over-lapped down the right and received the ball from Harry Bachelor before delivering a dangerous cross that was only partially cleared to the edge of the box where Ollie Moore was waiting and he held off the challenge of Babbington to fiercely volley left-footed in off the crossbar giving Highsted no chance.
Moore very nearly doubled the lead moments later when he seized on a short free kick and instantly let fly and although Highsted was caught off-guard, the ball flew narrowly wide of the far post. The Magpies really should have kicked on from this period, but instead they appeared to take their foot off the pedal and were rightly punished, not once, but twice before the break. First a predicatble, long ball down the middle wasn't dealt with and Luke Harvey was first to react and loft the ball over the stranded Milborrow. And then the big striker was at the fore again when Babbington easily got free in the middle of the park before slipping the ball in the channel for the number 9 to neatly finish inside the far post.
The visitors came out for the second half keen to replicate the period of play that had seen them dominate in the first half and a slightly mis-hit cross from Moore after 3 minutes nearly restored parity unexpectedly but the ball came back off the bar as Highsted watched on. Unfortunately Sheppey delivered a hammer-blow in the 54th minute when an in-swinging corner from Jack Mohoney wasn't defended well but regardless the fact that captain Rob Saunders clearly put the ball into the net with his hand should have seen the Magpies escape the danger but alas the officials failed to spot the infringement.
The visitors introduced Scott Harris and Gary Pritchard from the bench in search of a way back into the game but aside from a dragged effort wide by Adrian Todd in the 67th minute they created precious little against a narrow and resolute Sheppey defensive line who were now happy to hit on the break. Dave Neathey came on for Eddie French with 14 minutes to go to make his debut for the club but he was unable to prevent the late salvo from the host's main goal-threat, Dan Bradshaw, who took advantage of two lucky breaks in the area in the final 10 minutes to bag a brace for himself, and to be fair his work-rate throughout the game probably deserved it.
Now out of both FA competitions, the Magpies must regroup and focus on the county-based competitions, with the next challenge being a trip to Midhurst & Easebourne in the Sussex RUR Cup on Tuesday night.