Clough 7, Crittenden 87, Watson 90+5
Hall 90

Dorchester Town survived a late scare from nine-man Bury Town to book their place in the first round of the FA Cup.

The afternoon got off to the ideal start as Charlie Clough’s third goal of the season gave the Magpies a seventh-minute lead.

The lower-league visitors threatened a leveller but were left with an Everest-like challenge when Luke Ingram and then captain Tom Bullard both saw red.

Substitute Nick Crittenden eased the nerves of the Avenue faithful by doubling the home side’s tally but the nine men set up a tense finale when midfielder Connor Hall reduced the deficit in the 90th minute.

Fortunately for the county town side, Ben Watson bagged a late third to secure an eighth straight home victory, a £12,500 cash prize and a date with Plymouth Argyle in the next stage.

The Magpies made three changes to the side that lost 3-1 at Billericay last time out.

Jake Smeeton made his first outing of the season, coming in for the half-fit Nathan Walker (hamstring), Jake Gosling replaced Jamie Symes in midfield while Neil Martin took the place of injured winger Sam Malsom (ankle).

And with just seven minutes on the clock, the higher-ranked outfit were ahead.

Gosling’s corner from the right made its way to the far post and Clough was on hand to nod home the opening goal.

The towering defender almost made it two on the quarter-hour but this time his header was well saved by Marcus Garnham, with Jamie Gleeson blazing the rebound over the top.

The Blues took 20 minutes to register their first at goal – a tame effort from Sam Reed that was easily held by Jason Matthews – but the woodwork came to the home side’s rescue just past the half-hour mark as Sam Nunn’s header rebounded off the foot of the left-hand upright.

That near-miss gave the away side a much-needed confidence boost and shortly before the break Lee Reed picked out his brother Sam with an excellent through pass. Luckily for the Magpies, the latter could only muster a weak shot that bobbled harmlessly wide.

Dorchester made a change at the break with Symes entering the fray at the expense of Jamie Reid as Phil Simkin reverted to a 4-5-1 formation in a bid to win the midfield battle.

And just six minutes into the second period, Bury were not only a goal down, but a man down to boot.

An unnecessary melee broke out after Clough and Sam Reed had battled for possession in the left-back area and once the dust had settled, referee Adam Hopkins dished out two cards – a red for visiting midfielder Ingram and a yellow for goalscorer Clough.

Despite their numerical disadvantage, the 10 men could arguably have drawn level. But instead of trying his luck, full-back Mark Coulson opted to pass inside the box and the Magpies were able to snuff out the danger.

Sam Reed then volleyed wide mo-ments later before Gleeson so nearly eased the tension at the other end.

The home midfielder played a neat one-two with Gosling and although the ball looked to be heading out of play, the former still managed to squeeze in a shot that struck the outside of the near post.

Ashley Nicholls had a long-range drive parried by Garnham as the Magpies appeared to be assuming control but two minutes later the tie should have been all-square.

Substitute John Sands, who replaced the injured Sam Reed in attack, saw his deflected strike fall invitingly into the path of Lee Reed. But with just Matthews to beat, the Bury playmaker somehow cleared the crossbar.

And that proved to be a major turning point as shortly after the Blues were reduced to nine men.

Bullard’s dangerous lunge left Symes in a heap on the right touchline. And after consulting with his assistant, who was well placed to witness the reckless challenge, the man in the middle brandished his red card for a second time.

The sheer force of the tackle saw Symes stretchered off the field with his right leg strapped in a protective brace. Thankfully, the subsequent diagnosis was just heavy bruising as opposed to anything more serious.

Martin and Gosling both went close to putting the result beyond doubt before Crittenden appeared to do just that with three minutes remaining – heading home at the back stick from Mark Jermyn’s deep centre.

However, Hall sparked late drama as he lashed home from close range after the Magpies had failed to clear Coulson’s set-piece.

The Blues battled away in a last-gasp bid to rescue a replay but in the fifth minute of stoppage-time, Dorchester broke clear and Gosling crossed for Watson to extinguish all doubt.

Magpies: Matthews, Jermyn, Smeeton, Clough, Pugh, Gleeson, Gosling, Nicholls, Watson, Reid (Symes 46 (Crittenden 76)), Martin. Subs not used: Walker, Way, Morgan, Garcia, Tewkesbury.

Blues: Garnham, Short, Coulson, Kennedy, Nunn, Bullard, Ingram, Hall, S Reed (Sands 68), L Reed (Key 89), Patrick. Subs not used: Hitching, Flavin, Rossis.