Histon's romantic FA Cup journey ended with a raucous exit at the hands of Swansea City last night, the Championship side meeting the challenge of a heavy surface and potential shock against Steve Fallon's Conference outfit with a calm and accomplished performance to secure a fourth-round trip to Portsmouth.
But the Cambridgeshire village team, complete with postman, joiner, teacher and mechanic, did their club proud on a raw Fenland evening and, thanks to poor Swansea finishing, managed to claw their way back with a late goal to ensure the visitors endured a nervous final six minutes.
"It has been fantastic for us, but the lads are very disappointed now," said Fallon, the Histon manager. "It is such a big disappointment to go out of the Cup even after all we have done. We had a chance to go up against a Premiership team and we know it. That is something the lads are looking forward to now. They have been buzzing all the way to this so they have enjoyed it, but now it is over. The main prize for us though is in the league."
The Swansea City manager, Roberto Martinez, sang his side's praises. "I was proud of them, they adapted to well," he said. "In fact, I am extremely proud of how they performed. When you look at the conditions, and the way that Histon played, they faced the challenge very well, very professionally. If we had scored from our late penalty, it would have been a much bigger victory."
Histon had the disadvantage of not having played since 28 December, but attempted to make light of that and a run of just two wins in six games since the slaying of Leeds United in the second round at the end of November. Their bold early play signalled promise, but Swansea had no intention of being sacrificial Welsh lambs.
After surviving a few early scares, the Swans went in front after 23 minutes when Gorka Pintado lashed in a powerfully-struck shot from outside the penalty area, leaving goalkeeper Danny Naisbitt helpless. The striker then turned provider by making space on the right to cut back a low pass for Guillem Bauza to slide in the second shortly before the interval. For Martinez, and his men, the ghosts of Havant & Waterlooville, who knocked them out last season, were vanishing, if not yet banished.
Histon had chances, but few were clear-cut and even after two half-time substitutions they struggled to make an impression. A third goal on the break looked inevitable and it should have arrived after 80 minutes when Naisbitt brought down Nathan Dyer. From the spot-kick, Pintado drove against a post. The reprieve inspired Histon's last charge and they found the net, finally, when Josh Simpson bundled the ball in from close range. Urged on, they sought more glory, but this time it eluded them.
Histon (4-4-2) Naisbitt; Oyebanio, Langston, Ada, Patterson; Reeves, Simpson, Mitchel King, Knight-Percival; Murray, Wright. Substitutes not used: Pope, Bygrave, Kennedy, Andrews, Barker, Welch (gk).
Swansea (4-4-2) De Vries; Williams, Tate, Britton, Orlandi; Monk, Jones, Pintado, Bauza; Serran, Butler. Substitutes not used: Oleary, Scotland, Gomez, Macdonald, Rangel, Dyer, Pennock.
Referee: P Crossley (Kent).Reuse content