One game too many for tired March
March Town United 0, Rothwell Corinthians 1
FA Vase first round
A tired and depleted Hares team finally ran out of puff as their Wembley dreams were shattered for another year after an exhausting run of 11 games in 35 days.
Missing key men Jack Friend and Josh Burrows through suspension and illegibility, March huffed and puffed but did little to worry opponents from a level higher and deservedly lost.
In truth, it was a poor game, with March's young squad not playing the neat, passing football they're getting a reputation for and allowing themselves to get sucked in to Corinthians' more direct style.
One positive was a very impressive performance by goalkeeper Charlie Congreve but even he could do nothing to stop a fantastic 20-yard effort from Jordan Henson which won the match in the 80th minute.
In truth, the visitors looked more likely from the start and went close after just eight minutes when Kalon Peniasko headed a corner just over. March came back and Ryan Lennon blasted over after a good Craig Gillies flicked header before Adam Rothery saw a shot saved. Toby Allen's fierce effort then found the keeper's gloves.
But Rothwell saw one effort screw just wide, another blasted over from outside the area and then had a goal disallowed for a foul on Congreve, who then pulled off a superb double save to keep the scores level at the break.
It was a quiet start to the second half, with Congreve again the hero on the hour mark as he saved in a one-one-one situation.
Manager Brett Whaley threw on Broady Warren, Mark Warren and Lewis Gibson but they couldn't find a way through.
After the game, Whaley told the Citizen: "We were poor today. That was the worst we have played in a few weeks and I think it was a combination of a lot of games, some tired legs and injuries.
"We knew the opposition were going to try to unsettle us and put us under pressure and we just didn't deal with that very well.
"Our style of football which has got us success over the last few weeks is passing out from the back and we just didn't do that today. It was a terrible game of football, we didn't play our style and at the end of the day the game probably went how they wanted it to.
"Sometimes, when you have a very young squad, you can get dragged into playing in a certain way and I think that happened to us today. And when we needed a bit of energy, a bit of a buzz, tired legs caught up with us. For the last five weeks we've had midweek games and you do pick up injuries and people get tired - that's happened to us today.
"We are obviously disappointed but I have never questioned the application of the boys. The quality of our football just wasn't good enough today."
On Friend's suspension and Burrows' unavailability, Whaley added: "We have a front four that have worked really well together and when you suddenly have two of them missing you do things slightly differently. You could see that today - we just never got going."
And after all those games, the manager was looking forward to a few blank midweeks: "We've now got four or five weeks with no midweek games and we need it as we need to train and we also need to recover. And we need to get back to the league as with our good cup runs we have fallen behind.
"On Saturday, we go to Fakenham, who are in really good form. We beat them earlier in the season but they are a good side and I know we have to be right at it. We need to be going on a run of good results in the league now. We've won our last three in the league but that run needs to extend for a while.
"We are sat fourth and the top four go up this year so we are aiming for promotion - I just hope the backlog of fixtures does not hurt us."
March: Congreve, Barker, Kilford (B. Warren 56 mins), Callaghan, Emmington, Short, Lennon, Rothery (M. Warren 83), Gillies, Allen (Gibson 62), Rawson. Subs (not used): Cooke, Foxwell.
Referee: Ahmed Mohamed.