The FA Cup had all the romance of a slap across the face for Kettering Town as they were dumped out by Chalfont St Peter at Latimer Park.
The prize was a place in the third qualifying round and a £4,500 bonus went to the robust, hard-working visitors who are 10 points and 13 places below the Poppies in the Southern League Division One Central League table.
The Poppies fell behind after just eight minutes and to the frustration of a season’s high crowd of 696, they couldn’t find an equaliser.
The closest they came was when top scorer Dubi Ogbona had a 69th-minute header that clipped the crossbar and with just seconds left on the clock, Brett Solkhon had an effort well saved in a goalmouth scramble.
By then, the Poppies were down to 10 men following the dismissal of Tommy Hull for a challenge on Remmel Clarke in the 89th minute.
The Poppies went into the game having scored in every one of their 11 previous league and FA Cup games this season, but for all their possession and promise in the first half, Chalfont’s final ball and poise in front of goal was better.
Just eight minutes in, Alan Hedley capitalised on an absent Poppies’ defence to put Chalfont in front to groans from a bumper home crowd.
Clarke supplied the cross from the left that somehow trickled all its way to the unmarked Hedley at the far post and whenever Clarke got the ball or lined up a set piece it spelled danger for Poppies.
The Poppies should have been level at the break. There were half chances for Andy Hall and James Clifton that were saved and went over the bar respectively and the most clear-cut opening fell to Hall on 34 minutes.
Not for the first time during the match, Ogbona turned his marker inside out, then his cross found the unmarked Hall around 10 yards out, but with time to pick his spot, he steered his header wide.
Moments later, Josh Moreman was booked for an angry, unnecessary challenge that revealed the Poppies’ frustrations.
The Poppies were out early for the second half, but although they slung some good crosses into the box, they didn’t trouble the Chalfont goal until the 69th minute.
Ogbona’s header clipped the top of the cross bar, then he teed up Clifton for a volley that was just too high.
By then, Aaron Lansquott had wasted a chance to double the lead for Chalfont.
Ogbona dragged a cross shot wide when the Poppies got a sight of goal and following Hull’s sending off, Chalfont substitute Terrell Lewis was inches away from a second goal with a low shot in injury time.
Poppies: McAlindon; Clifton, Hull, Lee, Kinniburgh; Robinson (sub Liburd 75), Solkhon; Moreman (sub Hamilton 62), Gooding, Hall; Ogbonna. Subs not used: Bukasa, Taylor, Marsh.
Chalfont St Peter: McEngtart, Lennon, Grayham, Paxton, Amodele (sub Fowler 78); Paine, Hedley, Hames (sub Ailey 75), Carroll; Lansquott (sub Lewis 68), Clarke. Subs: Pearce, Morlese, Breen-Smith, Edwards
Referee: Robbie Dadley
Goals: 8: Hedley (0-1)