As is customary at this stage in the season, the Magpies had another cup tie to attend to and a visit to Midhurst & Easebourne in the Sussex FA RUR Charity Cup on Tuesday night gave them a swift opportunity to put the weekend's FA Vase disappointment at Sheppey firmly behind them. Although the hosts currently sit in the relegation zone of the division below in the SCFL, their heavy & undulating pitch, along with foul weather throughout, meant that this was not a straightforward test. Joe Holvey and Scott Harris, who announced his retirement from football earlier in the day, were the only absentees from Saturday's squad but the visitors were able to welcome back Ross Swaine who went straight into the midfield and Dave Neathey took his place in defence for his first Loxwood start,
It wasn't long before the Magpies were off and running as after only 4 minutes Tiago Andrade laid the ball off to Ollie Moore, who without hesitation crisply struck the ball across Billy Nash in the home goal and in off the far post for an early lead. Moore was at it again 13 minutes later although it took a while for everyone to realise it! Neathey flighted a free kick into the area and the Magpies striker rose well and guided a header over Nash but seemingly over the bar as well, although it was soon apparent that the ball and dipped just under the crossbar and the lead was doubled.
Despite the hosts' willingness to get the ball forward, they rarely threatened the Loxwood goal and it was only through a slight degree of over-playing at the back in tricky conditions that the Magpies felt any significant pressure. It was somewhat different at the other end as Adrian Todd saw his near post drive strike the outside of the post before Harry Bachelor (above) cut in off the right flank before unleashing a stinging shot that cannoned back off the far post, then after the move was recycled, Andrade curled an effort towards the top corner only for the woodwork to come to Midhurst's aid once again. They wouldn't be denied just before half time though when good work by Andrade set Michael Wood away and he was felled in the area by Mark Broughton prompting the referee to point to spot and present Moore with the opportunity to complete his hat-trick, which he took with aplomb.
Midhurst began the second half keen to get themselves back into the game, but they received a set back on the hour when Wood was put away down the right again before delivering a cross that Alfie Gritt turned home moments after coming off the bench. The hosts could have got a goal back almost immediately when a well-worked corner saw Harry Tollworthy meet the ball on the half volley 12 yards out but to everyone's amazement Brendan Milborrow sprung to his left to turn the ball up and over the bar. Loxwood took advantage of this and were soon up the other end with Wood working his magic again on the right before his cross found Harry Bachelor who cut inside and took aim, firing past Nash to make it 5 in the 64th minute.
Within 7 minutes, Bachelor had joined Moore on the hat-trick list! Adrian Todd slipped in a through ball that the young midfield ran onto, holding off the left back before rifling into the corner and he completed his set the way he'd started it by driving home following more good work down the right hand side to complete the scoring.
There was still plenty of time for the hosts to find a consolation and to their credit they didn't give up in pursuit of it, but they found Milborrow in excellent form, firstly producing a smart save when one-on-one with Jack Greenwood before tipping over a sweetly struck drive in the dying moments.
This was a solid performance in tricky conditions against a committed opposition and the victory sees the Magpies through to the next round where they will travel next Tuesday to take on Haywards Heath Town, who they currently sit alongside in the Premier Division.