LITTLE Oakley bowed out of the FA Vase at the first qualifying round stage after losing 3-0 at Long Melford, writes LARRY DOBKIN.

The Acorns travelled to Stoneylands to take on an in-form Long Melford side who have scored ten goals in the last two games.

With this weekend's big FA Cup tie against Chelmsford City in mind, boss Matt Carmichael shuffled the starting line-up.

Mann, Garrard and Owusu-Boakye started on the bench with Farthing getting his fitness back with the reserves.

This gave opportunities to Mayhew and Rusby a chance to stake a claim for the FA Cup game.

Oakley started well and were quickly on the attack. A long ball down the middle was well flicked on by Rowe who was playing centre-forward, finding Rodger who skilfully controlled the ball while running at the defender.

After a short dribble Rodger found himself one on one with the keeper. The large frame of the keeper was fully extended and a weak shot from Roger was easily saved.

Oakley played the ball across the back line and with precise passing worked the ball around Melford’s midfielder which gave Rowe the opportunity to control a through ball leaving him with only the keeper to beat.

Unfortunately, the ball was not taken cleanly allowing the on-coming keeper to smother the ball and the chance was gone.

Melford still had little of the play but sent a long ball to the right-hand wing where it was flicked on finding the Melford centre-forward running in on goal.

The ball bounced allowing a speculative chip over Joyce who had come off his line to try to steel the ball.

The attempt looked to be goalbound but although the ball was clear of Oakley’s keeper and chasing defence, went inches wide of the post.

From the goal kick Mayhew controlled a pass from Nobbs played down the left-wing and worked his way to the by-line.

He crossed in only to find the keeper rising high and preventing any further danger.

Oakley have the momentum and it appeared to be a matter of time before they would score.

After 30 minutes an Oakley attack was broken down and worked to Melford’s hard working centre-forward who went on a short run only to fire wide.

The next ten minutes saw Oakley mount several half chances culminating in a sharp move through midfield over to Rodger on the right-hand wing.

Rogers ran into the centre, working himself into a good position with only the keeper to beat.

The keeper narrowed the angle and forced Rodger to shoot only finding the keepers legs and deflecting the ball wide.

With time running out and into first-half injury-time Melford started an attack on the left-hand wing getting a low cross in and finding the centre-forward in space, who calmly side footed the ball into the side netting.

Oakley went in trailing at half-time and the second half started with Roger being substituted and Mann coming on.

An early attach saw three opportunities for Oakley. The ball was crossed into Mann who shot but was cleared off the line working its way to Rowe who also had a shot which was deflected finding its way to Mayhew who was five yards out with a clear goal to score in.

The shot was taken but went straight into the keeper’s arms.

A shake up was needed and after 60 minutes Garrard and Owusu-Boakye came on, replacing Mayhew and Rusby.

Melford were now playing better and looked the more dangerous side.

Some good work from Melford on the right-hand wing found a good cross which was met in the box and converted for 2-0, with no real pressure being asserted on the attacker.

Melford were on top with Oakley look dangerous on the counter-attack.

The hosts started another move from midfield where the ball was crossed into the box finding Joyce coming out to save.

But he only managed to push the ball back into the centre of the six-yard area where the ball was tapped in, giving Melford a third and making the score 3-0.

The game was summed up when Oakley gained a corner and crossed high into the area finding Dobkin in space with much of the goal to aim at but headed wide.

Melford were clinical and took their chance well, but Oakley will need to reflect on the chances they had missed.