It was a tale of two late penalties as Hemel Town were held to a 2-2 draw by Basingstoke Town at Vauxhall Road this afternoon.
After strikes from Matty Harriott and Chris Flood had seen the two sides go in level at half-time, the Tudors thought they had won the game in the 85th minute when Jamie Slabber slotted home from the spot following a trip on substitute Willy Gnahore.
But Hemel’s joy was short-lived as Basingstoke were awarded a soft penalty of their own just three minutes later when Terrell Forbes was harshly penalised for climbing on his man in the area. Liam Enver-Marum stepped up to dispatch the resulting spot-kick to rescue a point for his side.
It was a frustrating end to the game for Hemel, who had bossed possession for long spells and created enough chances to have won the match.
The Tudors made two changes from the side that drew with St Albans in their last outing, with Forbes and Slabber coming back in to the starting XI in place of Gnahore and the unavailable Matt Spring.
The first chances of the game fell to Basingstoke as Tudors keeper Jamie Butler was forced to tip over a bending free-kick from Louie Soares, before Sam Akinde headed wide from the resulting corner.
At the other end, Jamal Lowe bent in a dangerous delivery from a Hemel free-kick, but Slabber couldn’t quite get a telling touch as the ball was cleared to safety.
It was a lively opening to the game, and it was Hemel who made the breakthrough with just eight minutes on the clock. Ben Herd’s shot was blocked for a corner, and the ball was eventually recycled into the box where Oli Hawkins headed back for Harriott to lash home on the volley from 18 yards out.
The game settled down somewhat after the quick-fire opening exchanges, but Hemel were looking much more composed on the ball than they had been in the draw at St Albans.
The hosts were almost rewarded with a second goal after 26 minutes as Slabber skinned his man down the right and stood up a fine cross, but even the giant Hawkins couldn’t climb high enough to keep his header below the bar with the goal at his mercy.
Hemel continued to look lively, but it was Basingstoke who struck next to restore parity in the 35th minute, rather against the run of play. Tudors skipper James Potton was harshly adjudged to have pushed his man, and Soares whipped in a fine cross from the resulting free-kick, with Flood on hand to head home unmarked at the back post.
It was the visitors who started the second half the brighter of the two teams and they came close to taking the lead when Akinde cut onto his left foot and curled an effort just wide of the post from the edge of the penalty area.
Hemel continued to look dangerous at the other end, and it took a fine fingertip save from Basingstoke keeper Aaron Howe to deny Lowe after he was put through on goal by a clever reverse pass from Hawkins. Soon afterwards, Howe was again called into action to keep out long range efforts from Michael Richens and Harriott.
Tudors boss Dean Brennan made a double change with 15 minutes remaining, bringing on John Frendo and Mo Shariff in place of Hawkins and Lowe as he looked to freshen up his attacking options. Gnahore soon followed, replacing Hemel skipper Potton.
Hemel thought that the points were there with just five minutes to play as the lively Gnahore was tripped in the box, allowing Slabber to coolly send Howe the wrong way from the spot to make it 2-1 to the Tudors.
The action was not done there, though, as Basingstoke hit back almost immediately, with Enver-Marum rescuing a share of the spoils for the visitors to cap a bizarre end to proceedings.
Hemel Hempstead Town: 1 Jamie Butler, 2 Ben Herd, 3 Kyle Connolly, 4 Matty Harriott, 5 Terrell Forbes, 6 Ed Oshodi, 7 James Potton (c) (16 Wilfried Gnahore, 79 mins), 8 Michael Richens, 9 Oliver Hawkins (12 John Frendo, 75), 10 Jamie Slabber, 11 Jamal Lowe (14 Mo Shariff, 75). Subs not used: 15 Ed Asafu-Adjaye, 17 Ben Sampayo.
Basingstoke Town: 1 Aaron Howe, 2 Robbie Rice, 3 Tom Bird, 4 James Harper, 5 Jay Glasson, 6 David Ray, 7 Louie Soares, 8 Nathan Smart, 9 Liam Enver-Marum, 10 Chris Flood, 11 Sam Akinde (15 Lloyd Macklin, 65) . Subs not used: 12 Simon Dunn, 14 Manny Williams, 16 Will Salmon, 17 Harrison Gilkes.