Hemel Rovers were given a tough workout by Croxley Community before next week’s Herts County Cup last-16 trip to Goffs Oak.
A 6-3 scoreline in favour of Hemel didn’t reflect the closeness of the two sides as Croxley battled until the end.
Rovers took the lead after 15 minutes when a long cross from Jamal Babb was casually guided home by Ben Hammond.
A few minutes later, a goalmouth scramble resulted in Mylie Cash volleying the ball high into the Croxley net for a 2-0 lead for Rovers.
The visitors refused to buckle, however, and they were rewarded with an excellent solo effort from centre-forward John Smith.
Cash saw an effort just clear the bar and then Neal Perrin and Cash combined, allowing the latter to drive the ball home for a 3-1 half-time lead.
Croxley started the second half brightly and only a smart reflex save by Rovers keeper Dan Brown kept the two-goal lead intact.
With the visitors pushing forward, they were caught out when Cash raced through from the halfway line to blast the ball into the goal to extend Hemel’s lead to 4-1.
Croxley almost pulled a goal back when a shot squirmed through the legs of Rovers keeper Brown, only to stop on the goal line.
Rovers sub Kevin Price soon made his mark as he made a mazy run into the box, rounded the keeper, and rolled the ball into the empty net.
However, being 5-1 behind did not faze the visitors and again they breached the Rovers back line to pull another goal back courtesy of Smith.
Keeper Brown saved the home defenders with a brilliant one on one save and, as the game swung from end to end, Rovers’ Hammond saw an effort narrowly clear the bar.
More inter-passing between Price and Cash saw the former squeeze the last Rovers goal of the day into the Croxley net, before Billy Bywater grabbed Croxley’s third effort moments before the final whistle.