HHTFC v BRAINTREE TOWN - 02/05/2018
By Dean Chance
See below match report by Allan Mitchell
Vanarama National League South Play Off Eliminator
Hemel Hempstead Town 0 Braintree town 0
Braintree win 3-2 on penalties
A crowd of over 1150 were at Vauxhall Road to see if Hemel could take their already historical season a stage further. With his side finishing fifth, Manager Dean Brennan was hoping his side could achieve their dream of National League Premier Division football, but first they had to overcome an in form Braintree side who, despite having appoint deducted for fielding an ineligible player earlier in the season, pipped local rivals St Albans to the final play off place.
It was a typically cagey affair with both sides looking somewhat nervous at the start of the game, Braintree in particular seemed content to let Hemel have a lot of the possession and getting men behind the ball. The away side didn’t have their first shot on target until the 25th minute when ex Tudor Luke Allen had a shot which flew high and wide.
Before this David Moyo had a decent chance but he delayed his shot for too long and Nathan McDonald in the Iron’s goal was able to save with his legs. Hemel stepped up their efforts before half time and Jordan Parkes almost broke the deadlock when his curling effort from outside the box just missed the far post with McDonald beaten.
Sanchez Watt then created some rare space for himself in the area and looked to have the goal at his mercy but once again, like Moyo earlier, he delayed too long and a defender just managed to deflect his shot wide. Darren Ward will feel he should have done better when he met a Parkes corner unmarked, just before the interval, but he got up too early and his header went wide.
Braintree up until the half time break had created little to worry Laurie Walker in the Tudors goal but they came out in the second half with much more intent and the game opened up a little. Both keepers continued to be well protected by their respective defences though McDonald was slightly the busier, saving well from Sanchez Watt and then from Parkes who played a great one two with Connolly before driving into the box, he didn’t quite connect with his shot however and the Braintree keeper saved well after closing the Tudors skipper down.
You felt that a goal now would decide the tie but neither side looked as though they were going to break the deadlock. Braintree were now pushing forward more and had a couple of late chances but, once again they failed to trouble Walker and the game drifted into extra time.
The visitors felt they should have had a penalty when Ismail Yakubu appeared to trip Allen in the box but to the relief of the home fans the referee waved away the appeals. Allen, who was having a decent game against his old side must have thought he scored when he arrived unmarked just a yard out, ten minutes into the first period of extra time. He smashed his shot towards the gaping goal but somehow Walker stuck out a strong hand to parry the effort and it was cleared. Jordan Parkes almost caught McDonald out with one of his curing corner kicks but the keeper just got a hand to it and deflected it over. Braintree sub Roman Michael-Percil had come on and injected some pace to their attacks and he caused a few problems with his direct running but still the game remained at deadlock and the final whistle blew, forcing the sides into the dreaded penalty shoot out.
Both sides scored their first two penalties, Parkes and McCall netting for the Tudors and they then failed with one each to keep everyone’s nerves jangling. Hemel missed when Scott Shulton sent McDonald the wrong way but put the ball past the post. Wright hit the bar with his effort for Braintree before David Moyo blasted the ball into the crowd to keep it at 2-2. Daniel Thompson then put the Essex side 3- 2 up which meant that Sanchez Watt needed to score to force Braintree to take another kick. He stepped up and once again sent the keeper the wrong way but smashed his effort onto the bar which gave the visitors the win, breaking the Tudors hearts in the worse possible way, sending the Iron through to face Dartford for the Semi Final game on Sunday.
So the season concludes and when the dust settles The Tudors will look back on what might have been, but can still feel very proud of their efforts and with their highest ever finish they can look forward to more of the same come August and there is no reason they cannot continue their momentum and take it to the next step.
Hemel: 1 Laurie Walker 2:Joe Howe 3:Kyle Connolly 4:Jordan Parkes © 5:Darren ward 12: Lloyd Doyley (6:Ismail Yakubu) 7:James Kaloczi (11:Karl Oliyide) 15:Matt Saunders (8:Scott Shulton) 9:David Moyo 10:Herschel Sanchez Watt 11:Spencer McCall.
Subs Not used 14:Alex Osborn 21:Danny Boness.
Attendance 1165 Tudors Man of the Match: Darren Ward.