Sheppey United’s historic FA Cup run was ended with a 4-1 defeat to League Two Walsall.
The eighth-tier outfit, who sit 73 places below the Saddlers in the English football pyramid, were competing in the first round proper for the first time in their 123-year history.
A packed house of 1,400 were crammed in at Holm Park to roar on the lowest-ranked side left in the competition on the biggest night in the club’s history.
They were sent into euphoria when James Bessey-Saldanha opened the scoring for the Isthmian League South East Division side with a stunning 25-yard strike against the run of play in the 21st minute.
Scaffolder Connor Wilkins cleared Douglas James-Taylor’s effort off the line before Billericay penalty hero Aiden Prall produced some fine saves to keep out Isaac Hutchinson and Ryan Stirk in the first half.
The Ites were frustratingly undone by an error of their own making when a stray back pass fell to James-Taylor, who expertly fired across Prall just after the half hour.
The Saddlers’ dominance paid in the second half. Tom Knowles fired the visitors in front with a fine strike eight minutes after the restart.
On-loan Motherwell midfielder Ross Tierney wrapped up the tie with his sweeping 63rd-minute effort.
Hutchinson added gloss as he poked home the fourth late on after Prall fumbled under pressure.