Bridgwater Town 2 Hemel Hempstead Town 2
Hemel Town were forced to settle for a draw as they were pegged back late on by a determined Bridgwater side in the first qualifying round of the FA Carlsberg Trophy on Saturday.
At the time the Gazette went to press, the Tudors were ready to do battle in the replay, and the Hemel faithful will now know whether their side did enough to book a place in the next round.
Hemel will perhaps feel they did enough to win the game at the first time of asking, however, having produced a strong second half display on Saturday.
Tudors manager Dean Brennan said: “We deserved to win the game overall, but to be fair to Bridgwater, they came out of the blocks quickly in the first 20 minutes.
“We came out in the second half and kept our game plan and got two goals, but they hit us on the break late on.”
Despite a strong start from the hosts, it was Hemel who could have taken the lead – but a strong penalty appeal was turned down following a clumsy challenge on winger Dave Pearce.
Bridgwater were dominating possession, but Hemel looked dangerous at the other end through Pearce and Sakho Bakare.
After 42 minutes, the home side got the lead that their possession warranted as Joe McClennan fed Jon Vance to fire home.
Bridgwater nearly doubled their lead after 52 minutes, but Steve Fitzpatrick’s looping header was headed off the line by Hemel’s Joe Bruce.
From then on, however, Hemel started to find a foothold in the game and forced a 64th-minute equaliser.
Alex Campana was brought down in the penalty area by Bridgwater keeper Luke Pernell, and Steve O’Leary had no trouble in dispatching the resulting spot-kick.
The goal clearly buoyed the visitors and they took the lead five minutes later as Victor Osubu crossed for Pearce to tap in.
That looked as though it would be enough for the Tudors but, to their credit, Bridgwater kept plugging away and forced a draw through Vance’s second goal of the game.
Hemel boss Brennan, however, admitted that he was not fazed by the thought of a replay.
“We could probably do with the game to be honest because we’ve had a couple of weeks off recently,” he said. “I expect us to take the game to them and get back to winning ways at home.”
And the Hemel boss is targeting a prolonged run in the competition which he enjoyed success in during his playing career.
He said: “It is a big competition which I won as a player, and it was one of the best moments of my career.
“It is a competition which the club needs to do well in.”