Hemel Hempstead Town have set up a Herts Senior Cup final clash with fellow Conference South side Boreham Wood after beating Dacorum neighbours Berkhamsted 2-1 at Broadwater in Tuesday night’s semi-final.
Berkhamsted can feel very proud of themselves after giving their high flying neighbours a real battle, but in the end goals from Jordan Parkes and Nicke Kabamba were enough to see the Tudors through.
Hemel made most of the clear-cut openings throughout the game, but a mixture of good goalkeeping, defending and poor finishing meant that the Comrades were always in with a shout of causing an upset.
The first real chance of the game fell to Hemel debutante Billy Gibson when he crashed a drive against the bar after seven minutes, with keeper Ben Barnes well beaten.
The Tudors had another chance shortly afterwards when Jordan Parkes’ shot was blocked; the ball again falling to Gibson who curled his shot over the bar.
Dave King was causing Berkhamsted a few problems down the right and his cross was acrobatically flicked over by James Potton to Oliver Hawkins, who missed the target with his header from just a couple of yards out.
A long range effort from Parkes fizzed past the upright before Berkhamsted finally created an opportunity themselves, with Adiel Mannion taking advantage of a sleepy Hemel defence – heading onto the inside of the post, only to see it rebound out.
Kabamba almost gave the Tudors the lead when his close range effort was blocked by Barnes and the keeper did well to save another shot by Parkes that moved and dipped in the air.
The best chance of the first half fell to Hemel again, when Hawkins flicked the ball on to Kabamba who had time and space to pick his spot but somehow managed to put the ball wide of the target.
There was still time for the trigger happy Parkes to test Barnes but once again the young keeper saved well.
With Parkes on the pitch, a free-kick is almost as good as a penalty
Hemel started the second period at a slightly higher tempo and they should have gone in front after a corner when Kabamba found himself unmarked at the far post.
He headed the ball down and it looked to be going in but it bounced up off the ground and hit the underside of the bar before dropping into Barnes’ hands.
The deadlock was finally broken on 50 minutes when Ed Canham needlessly brought down Kabamba on the edge of the box.
It was close to being inside the area but the referee gave a free-kick inches outside. However, with Parkes on the pitch, a free-kick is almost as good as a penalty and he duly stepped up and curled the ball into the top corner with Barnes helpless.
Minutes later it was 2-0 as Kabamba got on the end of a cross and, with a good first touch, he fired the ball underneath Barnes to put Hemel in control and set for a place in the final.
The Comrades had other ideas, though, and they pulled a goal back just before the hour mark when skipper Canham found space on the edge of the box before turning and then firing powerfully home to stun the visitors and put Berkhamsted back in the game.
Hemel continued to make and miss chances, with Arthur Lee, Gibson, Hawkins and Parkes all coming close.
Berkhamsted continued to look dangerous on the break, with the lively Ashley Morrissey causing problems with his direct running and pace; however the final ball let them down on more than one occasion.
The Tudors looked somewhat relieved to hear the referee’s whistle at the end, and Berkhamsted’s Comrades certainly pushed them all the way.
Berkhamsted - 1: Barnes 2: Massey 3: Foster 4: Rodrigoe 5: Canham (c) 6:Hawes (Kelly)
7: Jowle (Morrissey) 8: Kinto 9: Christie 10: Farrrelly (Gavin) 11: Mannion. Subs not used: Taskel, Baldry
Hemel - 1: Head 2: King 3: Connolly 4: Parkes (c) (Johnson) 5: Hyam 6: Lee 7: Kabamba 8: Gibson 9: Hawkins (Newman) 10: Oshodi (Diarra) 11: Potton. Subs not used: 14: Harriott 17: Walker