Tudors gearing up for FA Trophy action this weekend

Joe Howe celebrates after putting the Tudors in front at Vauxhall Road over derby rivals St Albans on New Year's Day. (Picture: Marc Keinch)
Joe Howe celebrates after putting the Tudors in front at Vauxhall Road over derby rivals St Albans on New Year's Day. (Picture: Marc Keinch)

Hemel Town get a break from their league struggles this weekend when they take on Wingate & Finchley in the FA Trophy second round.

The top non-league cup competition offers a Wembley Stadium final and winning clubs at this stage pick up £7,000 from the prize fund.

It will be a welcome distraction for Hemel, who struggled in the league over the festive period, losing two and drawing two to slip to 15th place in the National League South table.

This Saturday’s tie offers a real chance of progress against a team below them in the football pyramid. Isthmian League Premier outfit Wingate are in 20th place in their division and have lost five of their past seven matches.

The Finchley side are managed by Glen Little, who played in the Premier League for Bolton, Reading and Portsmouth.

Clubs from the divisions below the Football League had no realistic chance of playing in a Wembley final before the trophy was launched in 1969.

It is open to all non-football league clubs registering pro players and Hemel had to fight through a qualifying round to get through.

Hemel are offering reduced prices for the match at Vauxhall Road. Adult tickets cost £10 (concessions £6), while unaccompanied U18s cost £5, accompanied U18s £1 and accompanied U12s get in for free.

The Tudors had a free weekend on Saturday due to mooted opponents Woking being in FA Cup action.

The previous match saw Hemel draw 1-1 at home against derby rivals St Albans on New Year’s day.

Almost predictably, it was honours even as no less than nine of the previous 13 games had also ended up level.

St Albans looked the stronger team in the first period but neither side did much to trouble the respective keepers until the 26th minute when City won a corner.

It was cleared for a throw-in but they have a specialist in this area, Sam Merson, who launched the ball at pace into the Tudors’ box. It caused panic in Hemel’s back line as Lewis Knight won a header that was deflected onto the bar, then bounced down onto the line before being cleared.

The second half started quietly with neither side creating much and on the hour mark Hemel brought on Herschel Sanchez Watt who immediately made an impact with his pace and trickery.

It was great work by Watt chasing a lost cause down the left that set up the first goal. He took the ball past the full back before laying it off to Jordan Parkes, who fired in a cross that ended up with the Saints’ keeper parrying it to Joe Howe, who rifled the loose ball home.

Saints huffed and puffed but created little. With time running out it looked as though the Tudors had done enough to grab the points, but City scored when Hemel were pressing for the elusive second goal. Parkes drove a cross into the box, but it was grabbed by keeper Dean Snedker, who cleared downfield to Merson who did well to get clear of Ollie Swain before crossing to Zane Banton who found himself in acres of space with his marker still upfield. He controlled the ball before slotting into the corner.

In the end a point was probably a fair reflection on the game but Tudors’ fans were left feeling deflated after a rough festive period.