Hemel Hempstead Town managed to get one over the old enemy as they just edged into the semi-finals of the Herts Charity Cup after twice coming from behind to beat St Albans City on penalties last night (Tuesday).
The game between the derby rivals at Vauxhall Road burst into life in the latter stages and after finishing 2-2 at full-time, the tie had to be resolved via a penalty shoot-out.
The first-half was a somewhat dour affair, with both sides guilty of sloppy play and the game struggled to get any fluidity.
Hemel had the better chances, with Ricardo German and the returning Alex Wall coming close with almost identical opportunities. Both players were sent clear down the left, but just failed to hit the target, the balls flying across the face of goal but missing the far post with St Albans’ keeper Dean Snedker beaten on both occasions.
City took the lead after 40 minutes, somewhat against the run of play, when a mix-up at the back let in Albert Adu Donyina and he made no mistake, firing into an empty net after keeper Sam Beasant and Mitch Dickenson got into a tangle on the edge of the box.
It was Beasant’s first game between the sticks since August 31 and the son of the famed Wimbledon keeper Dave has missed the Tudors’ last six games due to injury.
Former Tudor Zane Banton had an excellent chance to make it 2- 0 before the break, but he fired high and wide after some excellent work down the right had exposed Hemel’s back-line.
The second period saw Hemel up their game, with German and substitute Liam Nash both missing chances to level, before German finally equalised on 51 minutes, tucking the ball home after good build-up play by the Tudors.
But St Albans took the lead again just minutes later when Hemel failed to deal with a cross. The ball was only half-cleared to Donyina, who guided the ball home for his and his team’s second of the evening.
Hemel huffed and puffed in search of an equaliser and it looked as though it was going to be one of those nights, but after a brief skirmish between Wall and David Longe-King, which resulted in both players getting yellow cards, the game livened up and it looked more like a cup tie between two local rivals.
Longe-King was guilty of a nasty-looking tackle on Adam Cunnington which went unpunished and the same player then tugged-back Wall on the edge of the box. With the Tudors fans calling for a second caution, the referee just awarded a free-kick, but Nash stepped up to curl the ball brilliantly into the top corner to level the scores at 2-2 with just minutes left on the clock.
It was the midfielder’s eighth goal of the season in all competitions this term.
Nash then had a chance to win the game in stoppage time, but sent his shot from the edge of the box just over the bar.
With no extra-time in this cup competition, that was the last of the action and it went straight to the lottery of penalty shoot-out to decide the tie.
Hemel converted their first two spot-kicks via Nash and Cunnington, before Banton saw his effort saved by Beasant.
Isaac Galliford then missed one for Hemel, but another Beasant stop was enough to win it for Hemel as skipper-for-the-night Luke Howell and Wall converted their penalties to send take Hemel into the semi-finals.
Hemel were without a game last Saturday due to their early exit in the FA Cup to Beaconsfield on September 21.
They return to league action this Saturday, October 26, when Eastbourne Borough will be the visitors to Vauxhall Road (3pm kick-off).
The Tudors are lying in a promising second place in the National League South standings after 13 games, while Borough are in 16th.
Last season Hemel beat Borough 3-2 at home but lost 3-0 away, while the season before the Tudors did the double over The Sports, 3-0 at home and 2-0 on the road.
Hemel line-up v St Albans: Sam Beasant, Jacques Kpohomouh, Munashe Sundire, Luke Howell (captain), Mitch Dickenson, Tyrone Sterling, Tosan Popo, Rob Sinclair (Liam Nash), Alex Wall, Ricardo German (Adam Cunnington), Isaac Galliford, Subs not used: Sam Ashford, Connor Essam, Danny Boness.
Tudors’ man of the match: Tosan Popo.