Hemel Hempstead Town 1 Oxford City 1
Oxford City are certainly proving to be a tough nut to crack for The Tudors and a draw was the fair result as both sides cancelled each other out in a game of few chances. A place in the First Round proper was the prize for the winners and it will have to be done all over again on Tuesday evening with extra time and the dreaded penalties coming into play if neither side cant find a winner over 90 minutes.
In almost a carbon copy of the recent league game which Hemel just edged it was the visitors who controlled the game for periods without really threatening Laurie Walker as they just seemed to lack that cutting edge. This hasn’t been helped by the loss of last season’s leading scorer Matt Patterson who has joined Welling United.
Hemel had the clearer opportunities in the first period but failed to find the target, the closest they came was when a Jordan Parkes free kick hit the inside of the post, before hitting City keeper Craig King on the back, just missing the goal and going behind. Phil Roberts also had two decent chances but on both occasions he failed to find the target.
Hemel looked to get on the front foot early in the second half and Karl Oliyide had a great chance early on, when he took advantage of a wayward back pass and raced clear. The linesman waved for offside but the referee correctly overruled him, the errant flag may have put the Tudors front man off somewhat as he stopped before continuing his run on goal, his got a shot away but City keeper and Hemel local lad, King saved well with his legs.
It was a short lived reprieve however as The Tudors took the lead on 51 minutes after some good build up play involving Parkes and Billy Clifford, the ball was rolled across the box to Phil Roberts who unleashed an unstoppable drive into the roof of the net with King at full stretch.
Oxford made two changes bringing on the pacy Craig Fasenmade and Kunle Otudeko and this proved to be the turning point in the game, as Hemel got pushed further back into their own half. The equaliser came after 72 minutes a poor clearance by Darren Ward was swept into the path of Fasenmade who raced into the box before shooting from a tight angle, the ball seemed to have been dealt with by Walker but it slipped from his grasp and bobbled over the line to level the scores.
With Citys tails up the home fans started to fear the worse and it was hearts in the mouths time as Otudeko cut inside in the 85th minute before curling a shot in on goal, it looked to be heading for the top corner but a fortunate deflection off Tom Hamblin’s back diverted it just past the post.
Hemel counter attacked from the resulting corner and Oliyide was cynically brought down on the half way line when he had a clear run on goal and with minutes on the clock, sub Sanchez Watt broke into the box but a brave save at his feet by King ensured the game ended all square.
So it’s both names in the hat and a replay in Oxford will prove to be just as tight and the home side will be slight favourites to go into the next round but all still to play for and this tie could go either way.
Hemel : Laurie Walker 7 Kavan Cotter 7 Kyle Connolly 8 Jordan Parkes 7 Tom Hamblin 7 Darren Ward © 7 Joe Howe 6 James Kaloczi 6 Karl Oliyide 6 Phil Roberts 7 Steve Cawley 6 Subs: Sanchez Watt for Cawley 6 Matteo Mendy for Oliyide 6 Billy Clifford for Howe 6 Subs not used Lloyd Doyley, George Paulin, Sydney Ibie, George Nolan.
Referee Scott Simpson. Match Rating 3/5 Attendance 762