THE romance of the FA Cup is alive and well at Evesham United as they progressed to the first qualifying round with a 2-1 win over Harefield United.

Kai Tonge was the hero as he netted a brace in an impressive home debut having followed manager Carl Abbott from Quorn this summer.

Abbott’s side showed their intent against their Middlesex opponents as early as the second minute when Tonge broke down the left before finding Matt Dodd who was unable to apply a firm connection on the ball.

The first real chance fell to captain Danny Bragoli whose shot from the edge of the box was tipped over the bar by keeper Reece Mallett.

Evesham then opened the scoring on 23 minutes following a brilliant run and finish from Tonge. The attacker picked up the ball on the halfway line before sprinting into the box and unleashing a superb strike that gave Mallett no chance and Evesham a precious lead.

An excellent move then almost resulted in a second for United. Dodd’s long throw found Jack Cresswell who crested the ball into the path of Lee Chilton whose effort flew just over the bar.

Harefield came out to play in the second half and threatened to level the tie. Ryan Wharton produced a fine cross to Lenny Farhall whose well-placed header was turned around the post by Evesham’s on-loan keeper Lochie Robertson.

Tonge then put Robins firmly in the driving seat on 52 minutes when another brilliant individual run and strike gave his team a 2-0 lead.

Evesham had the ball in the net again on 66 minutes only for Chilton’s effort to be ruled out for offside.

No further reward came for Evesham despite playing the more controlled football. They then suffered a blow on 86 minutes when Sam Shaw dispatched a penalty.

The goal led to a nervy finale but United managed to see out the remaining minutes to seal their place in the hat for the next round.

Evesham Utd: Robertson, Roberts, Smikle, Paddock, Maslen-Jones, McGrath, Dodd (Reynolds 61), Bragoli, Tonge (Morrison 56), Chilton, Cresswell (O’Neill 56). Subs not used: Sangha, Till.

Attendance: 270.