Billinge’s poor form in the cup continued as they lost 4-3 to Orford in the Liverpool County FA Challenge Cup on Saturday.

Flying high in the league, The Storks have now gone out at first stage of three cups already this season.

However Saturday’s game could have been a far different story as Billinge stormed to a 2-0 lead in just 12 minutes.

The Storks took the game to the home side and forced a corner on two minutes that the Orford keeper Conor Yarwood dealt with under pressure.

Five minutes later they were ahead when left-back Ryan Platt hit a sumptuous 40-yard cross-field pass that debutant Jay McDevitt met with his head and steered it past Yarwood and into the net.

On 12 minutes it was 2-0: A corner to Billinge wasn’t cleared and when Chris Cottington turned it back in Phil Dearden was there at the back post to score his 13th goal of the season.

With The Storks taking the game to Orford it seemed only a matter of time before they would increase their lead.

Chris Fairhurst’s free-kick hit the wall and only moments later the home side were back in the game as a long ball found the Orford striker Daniel Hutchins one-on-one with The Storks’ keeper Tom Darbyshire.

He took the ball around Darbyshire and went to the ground resulting in referee Spedding pointing to the spot.

Orford’s Luke Pollock stepped up and duly converted the spot-kick to halve the arrears.

The home side were now in the ascendancy and on 28 minutes Darbyshire pulled off a fine save to deny Daniel Wilcocks.

On the half-hour mark Cottington tried an audacious free-kick from 35 yards that Yarwood tipped over the bar.

However on 33 minutes Orford were level as Platt inadvertently deflected a cross into the path of Hutchins who got the better of Darbyshire to score.

The game was now end-to-end as Platt cleared off the Billinge line before both McDevitt and Fairhurst just failed to get on the end of a Cottington free-kick.

On 40 minutes the home side completed a remarkable turnaround as another pass split The Storks defence and Ryan Barnes slotted home to make it 3-2.

McDevitt then blazed a free-kick high over the bar with the last kick of the half.

Whatever was said by manager Matt Potter at half-time had little immediate impact as on 48 minutes a corner from Gabe McInnes was allowed to go directly into the goal and increase Orford’s lead to 4-2.

This was undoubtedly a blow but Billinge slowly got back into the game.

Dave Wright had a header form a corner well-saved by Yarwood and on the hour mark McDevitt saw his long-range shot go inches wide.

A double substitution saw the welcome return of Daryl McCartney for his first game of the season after a lengthy shoulder injury along with the promising youngster Tom Hilditch.

This allowed Potter to move Cottington into midfield resulting in Billinge getting the upper hand over Orford’s physical approach.

Dave Blakeney went on a superb mazy run but couldn’t quite finish and Hilditch was just wide within an effort.

On 79 minutes with tackles flying in from all angles McDevitt somehow got free and finished superbly from an acute angle to make it 4-3.

The final 11 minutes saw Billinge throw everything at the home side but they defended stoutly and the closest Billinge came to levelling the game occurred when both Dearden and McDevitt had shots that went across the goal and away to safety.

It was a disappointing result for The Storks as manager Potter conceded after the game saying: “We were missing a number of players but it was a game we wanted to win and really ought to have done so but it’s over now.

“If it means losing cup matches and winning the league I’ll take that but at the moment it’s really disappointing.

“However we’ll brush ourselves down, have a good week in training and go again in the league on Saturday.”

That league game will be the club’s fourth of five consecutive away games as they travel to Daten for a Cheshire Football League Premier Division game.

Meanwhile at Barrows Farm Billinge Reserves continued their challenge for the Reserve Division title with a fine 3-1 victory over Moore United Reserves. Kyle Ross (2) and Joe Ratcliffe were Billinge’s scorers.