TORQUAY United were able to turn our attention away from the battle for League points as our Emirates FA Cup campaign got underway with a fourth qualifying round tie at Basingstoke Town.
Having played in a previous round of the competition for Bath City, player-manager, Kevin Nicholson, found himself overseeing matters from the dug-out for the first time against National League South opponents who were without a win in the League but had already won twice to get to this stage of the competition.
It was a disappointing start for United as we fell behind within the opening three minutes when a corner found Salmon in space and he had time to head the ball home beyond an exposed Fabian Spiess.
The first chance for United saw a foul on Alex Fisher give us a free-kick in a promising position which was delivered dangerously by Dan Butler as Tyrone Marsh headed over.
As United started to pose a few questions of our hosts, Fisher did well to find Bayan Fenwick whose positive run ended with him getting in a low strike that flashed just wide of the target.
Some neat play from United ended with Fisher caught just offside as we started to up the tempo as the rain continued to fall.
As a home corner broke down, Tyrone Marsh was able to launch a break which saw him find Butler who cut inside before curling an effort inches wide.
Against the run of play, United were caught on the counter-attack on 34 minutes as leading scorer, Flood, managed to loop the ball over Spiess and in off the crossbar to make it 2-0.
With the clock ticking down, Courtney Richards tried his luck from distance as the ‘keeper saved well and from the resulting corner, MacDonald’s downward header crept wide.
Shortly afterwards, Marsh did well to tee up Fisher whose strike failed to hit the target.
There was a booking for Murombedzi for kicking the ball away and he joined Richards who saw yellow for an earlier foul.
The opening period ended with United two goals down and work to do in the second half.
It was United who started the livelier of the two sides with an inviting free-kick from Butler finding the head of Marsh who saw his effort deflected wide and from the resulting corner, a powerful header from MacDonald crept wide.
A first change for United saw Louis Briscoe take the place of Fenwick on 51 minutes.
The home side went on to extend their lead with a third goal as a corner was not properly cleared and the ball fell out to Flood who found the net through a crowd of players.
After Briscoe had seen an effort go wide, a strike from Butler was spilled by the ‘keeper but the home side were quickest to scramble clear the loose ball in front of goal.
A second substitution saw Ashley Yeoman take the place of Fisher before there was an opportunity for young Will Hancox as he took the place of Murombedzi as the clock ticked down.
Some good play between Butler and Briscoe saw the ball half-cleared into the path of Richards who fired well over.
The closing stages saw some neat play by the home side end with McAuley firing over before a chance for Yeoman at the other end saw him denied by the 'keeper.
A determined run from Butler saw him make progress before making room for a strike that was deflected wide as the resulting corner came to nothing.
It was to be the last action of the afternoon as United slipped to a disappointing 3-0 defeat as our interest in the Emirates FA Cup ended at the first hurdle.