The Magpies went to divisional favourites Haywards Heath on Tuesday night looking to bounce-back from a thoroughly disappointing showing last time out at home to Newhaven. They were rocked by a late injury to Alfie Gritt but welcomed Sam Smith back into the squad after completing his three match suspension.
The hosts certainly started the brighter of the two sides although they were helped by a period of giving away possession and free kicks too cheaply by Loxwood, thereby enabling Heath to apply their customary aerial pressure. A succession of corners saw Jahmahl King head against the bar and in the 9th minute when another delivery wasn't fully cleared Alfie Rogers was on hand to dispatch the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
Despite this setback, the Magpies gradually began to gain a foothold in the game with progress being made particularly down the flanks but much of that owed to the hard work being undertaken by Tiago Andrade against his former club who was occupying both centre backs. Unfortunately the quality of the delivery from the wide areas wasn't matching that of their opponents and as such the promising openings failed to cause the home defence many problems. Sure enough, this failure to take advantage of the hard work would prove costly when just a minute before the break Rogers ran on to a long ball before pulling the ball back where Trevor McCreadie did just enough to get across Joel Colbran and poke the ball home.
Enough had been seen in the first half to give the Magpies genuine hope of getting back into the game, particularly if they could improve their end product from wide areas and they began the second half doing just that as well as provide more resolution in defence giving Heath precious little to work with when they had the ball.
The game as a whole wasn't helped by far too many free kicks being given for the slightest physical contact in both directions and it was somewhat inevitably that soft cautions would eventually lead to a dismissal and so it proved for Adrian Todd who saw red in the 66th minute, making the task ahead even harder. The men in yellow and black weren't daunted though, if anything they appeared even more inspired by the adversity and continued to apply pressure to a Heath backline that was starting to look fragile.
Guilt-edged chances fell to Ollie Moore and Harry Bachelor (above) following great work by Andrade but an off-target volley and exception on-the-line block meant that both opportunities went by without reward. Bachelor did make the breakthrough with 7 minutes to go though, after he received an excellent pass from Jordan Warren in the area before skipping past two challenges and then firing into the bottom corner.
Although there was still plenty of time to force an extra 30 minutes in the cup tie, the Magpies were unable to carve out any further opportunities, not helped by the continued breaking up of the game's flow by a combination of excessive whistle-blowing and canny game management by the hosts.
The result on the night might not have been what was hoped for, but the performance after Saturday certainly was and the Magpies know that this level of effort and commitment must be replicated on Saturday if they are to go further in the Peter Bentley Cup when they host Pagham.