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North Ferriby United 2 Worcester City 1
WORCESTER City's lack of strength in depth was exposed as North Ferriby United burst their Barrow bubble.
Just seven days after recording one of the best results of their season, the Aggborough outfit lost against the 10-man Villagers at Grange Lane.
Facing the league leaders on their own patch was a challenge in itself but to do it with a raft of personnel missing was virtually mission impossible.
Keeper Ryan Boot (knee) and Aaron Farrell and Aaron Brown were all out, the latter two due to a family bereavement, while Steven Leslie and Kristian Ramsey-Dickson have left the club.
It left the visitors woefully short on options and forced manager Carl Heeley to sign himself on as a substitute.
While Ferriby aren't short of a few quid, highlighted by having two of the league's leading scorers in their ranks, City are having to make do and mend.
They may have added Wayne Thomas and Martin Devaney in recent weeks but they don't have much money to play with in the grand scheme of things.
In addition, Heeley doesn't have the luxury of running with a large squad to cover for emergencies, such as losing Farrell and Brown at the 11th hour.
That they had to draft in academy midfielder Max Crisp alongside team-mate James Lemon further underlined the point.
With all that in mind, Worcester performed admirably and were well in the game until Birmingham City teenager Callum Preston, in for Boot, made a mess of rolling the ball out his area and hauled down Danny Clarke for a penalty eight minutes before the break.
Even though Nathan Jarman despatched the spot-kick for his 18th goal of the season, City weren't discouraged and fought back.
That Preston hadn't even been booked for his foul, when he must have feared red, was perhaps a change in luck and it got better for the visitors five minutes later.
With Daniel Nti scampering towards the box, the striker was tripped from behind by Clarke for a free-kick. Clarke was sent off for denying a goal-scoring opportunity and Nti curled a delightful set-piece over the wall and past the helpless Antoni Pecora.
Suddenly, the pendulum looked to be swinging the way of City, who had also been playing against a strong wind blowing in off the Humber estuary in the first period.
But, despite the man advantage, the second-half pressure didn't materialise and, instead, it was the hosts who grew stronger.
City began to run out of ideas and, apart from on-loan Kidderminster Harriers winger Santiago Aloi, had nothing on the bench to turn the tide.
Lemon replaced left-back Tyler Weir late on but the teenager is not used to such situations and to ask anything more of him would have been unrealistic.
Coming on as a late sub in an FA Cup match with the tie won is one thing, against the title-chasers in pursuit of a point quite another.
Worcester did threaten in the closing stages through Nti and Ethan Moore, who also had a first-half header superbly saved by Pecora. But they couldn't find a way back.
A commendable revival they may be having, City are still nine points above the Skrill North drop-zone, but this was a game too far.
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