It simply proved to be a bridge too far for Kettering Town as their hopes of reaching the first round proper of the Emirates FA Cup for the 52nd time in their history were ended at Solihull Moors.
There could be no arguments when all was said and done.
The two-division gap between the two sides was evident in the key areas as Solihull punished the Poppies when their chances arrived while Kettering struggled to make any sort of impact in their opponents’ penalty area.
The writing was on the wall once ex-Poppy Ryan Beswick had put the hosts in front with a free-kick but the damage was really done when Andy Brown headed home the second just minutes later.
Credit where it’s due, however, the Poppies never gave up and their best spell came late on when James Haran powered home a header to finally give their large band of supporters something to cheer.
Dean Snedker started in goal with Paul White still injured while the likes of Gary Mulligan and Wilson Carvalho were passed fit and there was an instant return for Rene Howe following his four-match ban.
The Poppies started brightly enough and their high pressing of their hosts almost brought a big error from Solihull goalkeeper Nathan Vaughan when his poor clearance went straight to Carvalho but his hurried pass couldn’t quite release Howe.
But Solihull gradually worked their way into it and Beswick should have done better than shooting wide after Brown had headed a cross back into his path.
However, the deadlock was broken on 18 minutes as Beswick curled home a free-kick from 20 yards.
Snedker produced an excellent save to deny Brown but just moments later the crucial second goal arrived.
Solihull broke quickly down the right and with Kettering out of position, Shepherd Murombedzi’s cross was headed home by the unmarked Brown at the far post.
The Poppies did have a chance before the break when Spencer Weir-Daley’s shot was blocked on the line after Vaughan had dropped Liam Bateman’s cross.
But the game was well and truly over on 65 minutes when, after an even start to the second half, Solihull produced another moment of quality with Omari Sterling-James producing a pinpoint centre and Brown made no mistake when sending a clinical header back across goal and into the far corner.
There was little to write home about after that.
But Kettering were better in the final 10 minutes. Substitute Liam Canavan found no takers when he headed a ball back across the six-yard box.
And they finally got on the scoresheet six minutes from the end when Haran rose above the rest to power home James Brighton’s free-kick.
Alas, it was merely a consolation but a sure sign that Kettering never gave up the ghost.
It didn’t stop the frustration from some sections of the support, however, as Howe was involved in an exchange of views with some fans before heading for the dressing-room.
This isn’t the game that the Poppies will be judged on.
But, given their poor form in the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division so far this season, you can certainly expect them to be judged after home games with St Neots Town and Weymouth over the next seven days.
No-one wants this FA Cup exit to mark the end of the season, it’s up to Marcus Law and his players to ensure that isn’t the case...
Solihull: Vaughan; Fagbola, Gough, Daly, Franklin; Byrne; Murombedzi (sub Dielna, 81 mins), Osborne (sub Jones, 72 mins), Beswick, Sterling-James (sub Knights, 66 mins); Brown. Subs not used: Lewis, Niate, White, Hayden.
Poppies: Snedker; Bateman, Mulligan (sub O’Connor, 69 mins), Haran, Langdon; Carvalho, Hicks (sub Hornby, 59 mins), Solkhon (sub Canavan, 75 mins), Brighton; Howe, Weir-Daley. Subs not used: Baker, Bradshaw, McAlindon, Westwood.
Referee: Tom Nield.
Goals: Beswick (18 mins, 1-0), Brown (24 mins, 2-0), Brown (65 mins, 3-0),