BARNSTAPLE Town bowed out of the Evo-Stik League Southern Challenge Cup quarter-finals on Tuesday night.
Having made the last eight at their first attempt in the competition, Barum were denied a spot in the semis after a hard-fought 2-1 defeat at home to Division One South and West high-flyers Salisbury.
With 12 wins from their previous 13 games, Salisbury went into the clash high in confidence, but Barnstaple restricted them in a fast-paced start to the game.
“There wasn’t a lot in it,” said Barnstaple manager Barry Yeo. “We were more than in the game throughout.
“When they got the second it killed us off.
“I would say we had the better of the play, not that there was loads of it, but we did get in behind a few times. It was a close and cagey encounter and we didn’t do a lot wrong.”
Salisbury, who beat Shortwood United, Winchester City and Dorchester Town to get to this stage, broke the deadlock after 37 minutes.
Lewis Benson squared to Tommy Wright and the on-loan Sutton United striker made no mistake to poke home the opener.
More of the same ensued after the break as both sides went for it in an end-to-end encounter. Wright came close to grabbing a second but his shot struck the post on the hour mark.
It took until the 74th minute for Steve Claridge’s men to double their lead – and it came in fortuitous circumstances.
Tauren Roberts took aim and, while his shot looked to be going wide of Steve Oliver’s post, it was deflected in by Barnstaple captain Craig Allan.
Ryan Turner was sent on to replace Appledore winger Brian Levien, and did grab a late consolation.
Allan fired a ball to Jed Harper-Penman, he crossed and Turner met the delivery with a fine header to make it 2-1.
But Salisbury saw the game out to keep their hopes of silverware well and truly alive.
Barnstaple are back in league action on Saturday when they welcome North Leigh to Mill Road.
“They battered us (5-0) away from home but we didn’t collapse after going a goal down this time,” said Yeo.
“We were in the game for long periods and there wasn’t a lot we could have done about the two goals they scored.
“There was nothing really in the game.”