Kings Lynn Town 1-1 Hemel Hempstead Town (Hemel win 5-4 on penalties)
FA Challenge Trophy Second Round Proper
Match report by Allan Mitchell
Tudors skipper Josh Castiglione tweeted after the game “who wrote that script then” and you have to say that this was a game that will be etched in the memories of all the fans who had made the long trip up from Hertfordshire to watch it.
Arriving at The Walks, Kings Lynn’s picturesque stadium, few Hemel fans were feeling very confident at their prospects against an in form Linnets side, who are still in the FA Cup and were sitting just two points off the top of the National League North with games in hand.
It was vistors who actually had the first chance of the game in the third minute when Jernade Meade arrived unmarked at the back post after a quick break down the right. He probably had more time than he thought and in getting his shot away quickly it lacked power and the keeper was able to get across to save it.
This early scare seemed to stir the home side into life and they proceeded to take the game to the Tudors, creating numerous chances. Craig King had already made a couple of good saves before he was beaten on 13 minutes when the excellent Ken Charles drove the ball home after a cross from the right just wasn’t dealt with.
Gold Omotayo was a constant threat all game for The Linnets and he brought another fine save out of King and with Hemel hanging on until the break, Charles almost took advantage of some indecision at the back when he arrived unchallenged, he smashed his shot off underside of the crossbar, the ball bounced down onto the line and away. A second goal at this time you felt would have ended the contest but the Tudors went into the interval just the one goal down.
The second half saw Hemel create a few more chances but it was Lynn who looked the more likely to add to their goal tally.
Ken Charles, who looked some player and gave the Hemel backline a torrid time all game smashed another powerful drive onto the cross bar for the second time and he almost directed a header into Craig kings goal when he got in front of his marker at the near post, the ball just flying wide.
Omotayo was the next player to strike the woodwork when he turned sharply and drove the ball in, the ball bounced down and was driven back in but Craig saved the effort and it was cleared.
The Linnets frustration was starting to look evident as Hemel started to press forward as the clock ticked down. A previously solid looking backline was starting to make errors and Hemel could have levelled when Florent Bojat was put through the middle, he shook off his marker and as the keeper came out he tucked the ball past him, only to see it go wide of the post.
Lynn were now trying to run the clock down, as Hemel sensed it just could be their day after they had survived the onslaught.
Brooklyn Ilunga, who, up to now had been shackled superbly, finally found himself in space in the 90th minute but his powerful drive just cleared the bar and the Tudor Army started to feel that the game was done.
There were 4 minutes off added time to play and having survived another scare at the back, they forced another corner in the very last seconds. Keeper Craig King was sent up and as the ball came in he rose above everybody and headed it home, via a slight deflection much to the disbelief of everyone in the ground and to the delight of the healthy band of Tudors behind the goal.
There was barely time for the restart and the referee called a halt to proceedings.
The Trophy rules don’t allow for a replay or extra-time. So it was straight to penalties.
The script was surely written wasn’t it? As the goal hero took his place between the sticks and the players stood on the halfway line you felt something amazing was about to happen.
The first two spot kicks were despatched, then Lynn missed their second, Hemel scored then missed their third and Lynn missed again but so did the Tudors. The fifth penalties were both despatched so at 3-3 it went to sudden death. The next two went in before the final line was written, with Craig King superbly saving Lynn’s effort and it was left to Harris O’Connor to step up and take the Tudors into the next round. He sent keeper Jones the wrong way to send the Hemel Faithful into raptures and bringing a conclusion to an unbelievable afternoon in Norfolk.
Hemel: King, O’Connor, Meade (Obi) Lelan, Roberts, Brown, Dada (Bojaj) Morgan-Griffiths, Ilunga, Castiglione ©, Holness (Holt) Subs not used: Poku, Eleftheriou, Westbrook, Ajayi.
Tudors Man of the Match : Craig King (who else)