Hemel Hempstead Town 1 Stourbridge 1 (Stourbridge win 6-5 on penalties)
Buildabase FA Trophy Round 2: Match Report by Allan Mitchell
As Storm Arwen swept across Vauxhall Road, Tudors fans, who are used to their side succumbing to lower league sides in the early rounds of any cup competition in recent years, were still hoping that they would have enough to progress against Stourbridge, who were struggling down at the lower reaches of the Southern League Premier (Midland) Division.
Manager Mark Jones was still without several first-team regulars. He only had three outfield players on the bench, including assistant manager Dan Jones and two academy lads, Ethan Holt and Max Rosner.
For the first 20 minutes, it looked like the home side wouldn’t have too many problems seeing their Midlands opponents off as they dominated the early exchanges.
They took the lead on 18 minutes when a defender deflected Dan Wishart’s cross past the keeper just as Alfie Cerulli looked set to pounce.
Any chance of the faithful settling back to watch a comfortable match were extinguished just a couple of minutes later when a mistake at the back allowed Grimsby loan man Montel Gibson a clear run on goal, and he made no mistake, tucking the ball past Craig King with Stourbridge’s first attempt at goal.
This seemed to give the visitors a huge lift, and they started to enjoy more possession, taking the game to Hemel, but with the conditions worsening, it was difficult for either side to play any sort of football in the swirling wind and rain.
The Tudors were given a massive bonus just before half-time when Stours number five was given a straight red for a nasty looking challenge on Josh Castiglione. Some ‘handbags’ ensued, and after a lot of pushing and shoving, the referee calmed things down, booking Carruthers and Styche in the aftermath, and the game continued.
The second half saw Hemel dominate, but Charlie Price in the Stourbridge goal was having one of those days, saving everything that was thrown at him. He was helped by some rather robust tackling that saw the referee produce a number of yellow cards, and despite playing with ten men for over 45 minutes, they held on, and the dreaded penalties beckoned.
It all went according to plan for Hemel with their first four spot-kicks converted whilst McQuilkin saw Craig King save his effort down to his right.
Up stepped Gus Scott-Morriss to put the Tudors into the next round, but he put his kick a bit too close to Price, and it was saved, So onto sudden death and both sides scored their next penalties before Castiglione put his effort to Price’s left and he saved again sending the Stourbridge fans into raptures and his side into the hat for the next round.
So it’s back to league action for Jones men with a tricky trip to Hampton and Richmond on Saturday next up. Jones will have several players available for selection again, and he will be hoping to get back to winning ways to consolidate the recent improvement in the National League South.
Hemel: King, Scott-Morriss, Wishart, Stephens, Castiglione, Kpekawa, Nembhard, Carruthers, Mantom © Cerulli, Maghoma (Jones) Subs not used: Holt, Rosner, Hayes.