Heybridge Swifts manager Jody Brown was proud of the way his side pushed hosts Exeter City to the limit in the weekend’s tight FA Cup first round at St James Park.

However, Brown was also frustrated with the way his side conceded the three goals – from two set-plays and a goalkeeping error – on an otherwise unfortgettable day for the Swifts.

Backed by nearly 300 away supporters, who had made the long journey down to Devon to witness the Bostik North’s fourth appearance in the first round proper of the Cup, the Swifts held their League Two hosts for an hour before pegging them back to 2-1 on 70 minutes.

A brace from Jayden Stockley, on 59 and 63 minutes, had given the Grecians some breathing space until Sam Bantick netted the goal of the game.

The influential Lewis Godbold, who had only been on the pitch as a substitute for six minutes, helped on a cross by Juan Luque to provide the assist for Bantick to direct a shot high into the net.

Heybridge then had dreams of fashioning an equaliser and so forcing a replay at Scraley Road. Ryan Henshaw and skipper Lewis Dark both went close with late headers, before Liam McAlinden bagged a third for the Grecians in the 86th minute, to end the Essex club’s brave challenge.

“We gave them a very good game, and I am extremely proud of my players,” said Brown.

“We kept a clean-sheet for nearly an hour. In fact, they didn’t even have a shot on target during the time. But on the other side, I’m also disappointed with the nature of the goals we conceded, from two set-plays and a goalkeeping error, which is so unlike us.”

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