CHIPPENHAM Town manager Mark Collier labelled his side’s FA Cup exit to League Two Northampton Town as ‘a step too far’ after the Bluebirds were beaten 3-0 at Hardenhuish Park in the first round on Sunday, writes JONATHAN LEIGHFIELD.

Two first-half goals from Vadaine Oliver and one from former Swindon Town loanee Harry Smith, also before the break, sent Chippenham tumbling out of the Cup despite a spirited second-half showing.

Karnell Chambers had a couple of presentable opportunities to score late on, as did Rhys Tyler, but none found the net as Chippenham fell in the first round proper for the third time in as many attempts.

Bluebirds boss Collier was delighted with the spirit his players showed in the second 45 minutes, but felt their first-half performance was too respectful towards their Football League opponents and a three-goal lead was always going to be difficult to overturn.

Collier said: “We’re a little bit disappointed in the end because I think, in the first half, we were a little bit too respectful.

“However, I thought the second half was a bit more like us.

“I know at 3-0 the game is done and dusted as a result, but if we take one of those opportunities that we created, then who’s to know?

“It’s been a great cup run for us, we’ve been pleased with the way we’ve gone about our business, but unfortunately for us, today was one step too far.”

Chippenham made an encouraging start on home turf, despite seeing a Smith header crash against the bar after only five minutes, and were competing well with League Two side Northampton for the first 20 minutes.

However, a brave block from Will Richards saw him leave the pitch for treatment on a bloodied nose, and defensive assignment Smith was able to out-jump his temporary marker and nod the visitors into a lead Chippenham could not come back from.

Collier tipped his cap to Northampton though for doing a professional job with a side that only featured two changes from their 2-2 draw away at Oldham Athletic in the league last weekend.

Collier said: “We knew Northampton would have a lot of physicality, size and presence about them, so that was always going to be a problem for us.

“If they aren’t able to play into their wide areas, then they’re able to play into the front men and they get runners off them for fun.

“We knew that was going to be a problem, however, we feel a little hard done by when Will Richards goes off – our best header of the ball – and then the man that he’s marking, Smith, scores from a corner.

“That’s the way it goes in the FA Cup sometimes, but credit to Northampton. They’ve done a good professional job and shown why they are where they are.”