The HertSavers Senior County League steered their way safely through round one of the FA Inter-League Cup with a hard-fought 4-2 victory over the Brighton Hove and District League at Colney Heath.
Herts made the early running, with Jack Brown and Rob Courtnage involved in carving out a couple of early chances, and Lee Inch going close with a drive that rattled the bar.
Courtnage combined well with Inch and James Endacott as Herts looked for the opener, but the visitors were excellent on the break, and began to ask a few questions of the home defence.
Brighton centre-half Morgan Ball had proved a real obstacle for the Herts forwards, and soon showed he had more than one string to his bow when he headed the visitors ahead after 18 minutes following some hesitant defending.
Herts enjoyed some success on the their left flank, where Courtnage and Endacott again worked well to set up Elliot Harris, whose low drive was pushed for a corner by the Brighton keeper.
Seconds later Inch saw a snapshot deflected away for another corner as Herts pressed hard, and he saw another effort saved in the melee.
It was not one-way traffic, though, and it took a fine saving tackle from Gary Nicholson to halt a promising break for Brighton.
The equaliser came after 35 minutes as some neat passing football saw Darren Butler and Brown combine to put Hart through, who earned a corner.
A near post cross from Courtnage saw a Brighton defender throw himself at the ball, but only to head into his own goal.
Buoyed by the goal, Nicholson sent a half-volley onto the bar as the half neared its close, and the final chance fell to Harris, but he scooped his shot high over the bar.
Herts made an enforced change at the break as Jamie Hurst replaced Chris Ingham, but the second half started disastrously for Herts when Bobby Pannett was put through and clipped the ball home to give Brighton the lead.
Endacott found Ball too strong as he drove in on goal, and eight minutes in, Harris jinked himself into space before shooting for the far corner, but the Brighton keeper palmed the effort away.
Kosi Banden replaced a hobbling Courtnage after 55 minutes as the game entered a stage where Herts seemed to run out of ideas despite all their hard work,and Hurst was booked for a foul.
But the equaliser came just before the 75-minute mark when Wesley Fox headed a corner powerfully onto the bar, but was alert enough to then flick the rebound home.
This put fresh wind in Herts’ sails, and within two minutes they were ahead, a push on Fox in the box resulting in a penalty which Harris calmly slotted home.
Brighton responded to this set-back by throwing everything at Herts as the game became stretched for the first time, and only some brave defending keeping them out on a couple of occasions.
With the game entering added-time, Brighton’s hopes took a major blow when Ross Smith was dismissed for dissent, and the result was made safe in the dying seconds when Harris bagged his second with a fine finish after Banden had controlled for him.