PROUD boss Alan Lay couldn't swear that Swanage had been on the wrong end of divine intervention in the FA Vase - but it certainly felt like it.

Swans - the Dorset Premier League's sole representatives - suffered a heartbreaking sudden-death penalty shootout defeat to US Portsmouth following a dramatic 1-1 draw in the second qualifying round at Day's Park.

The hosts took the lead against their higher-ranked opponents when Graeme Rose tucked away on the rebound following full-back Chris Stratford's driving run and shot from distance.

Callum Coker levelled before half-time and Swans were grateful to the match referee who denied visiting striker Ami Rosario a second for offside despite his assistant not raising the flag.

Swans were reduced to 10 men during the first half of extra-time when Jack Watson was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence but Lay's charges kept probing and substitute Paul Best pelted the inside of the post with the final kick of the 120 minutes.

US Portsmouth took a 2-0 lead in the shootout and while a pair of fine saves from 17-year-old keeper Taylor Hibbs got Swanage back on terms, the Wessex One outfit still progressed 4-3.

Lay told the Daily Echo: “I was ever so proud of the boys and we came so close to nicking it right at the end. Besty has hit the inside of the post and the ball flew into the keeper's arms. We couldn't believe it.

“The referee blew his whistle straight after and the keeper just dropped straight to his knees and started praying.

"It was gut-wrenching but that's football, we all love the game but it has a terrible habit of kicking you in the teeth.”

On their opponents' disallowed goal, Lay said: “I had never seen that before and fair play to the referee. He said afterwards that it was so blatant he had to give it but not many would have. It was the right decision.

On Watson's dismissal, Lay added: “It was deserved. The first booking was a tight call but the second challenge was rash and Jack has held up his hands after the game.

“It made a difference because it put us on the back foot but we were still in a position to win the game. It would be wrong to blame one individual for going out of the competition because to a man everyone was excellent.”

Swans: Hibbs, King, Stratford, Richards, Harding, Watson, Woods (Harvey, 101), P Best, Rose (R Best, 101), Reavenall-Nuete, White (Harrop, h-t). Unused subs: Ritchie, Williams.