It was penalty shoot-out heartbreak for Hemel Hempstead Town FC as they were beaten by Gosport Borough in the Evo-Stik League Southern Premier Division play-off final.
With the scores locked at 2-2 after extra-time at Vauxhall Road, the game was decided by the dreaded shoot-out lottery – and it was Gosport who had the winning ticket.
Matt Nolan was the man who saw his penalty stopped by the impressive Gosport keeper to ensure it was the south coast team who secured their place in the Conference South for next season.
It was a cruel way for the match to be decided, especially after Hemel had launched the great escape late on in normal time.
Trailing 2-0 at half-time, things looked bleak for the Tudors as they attempted to prevent Gosport from claiming back-to-back promotions.
Hemel huffed and puffed as the match went on, but looked destined for defeat until substitute David Hutton pounced to halve the deficit with two minutes remaining.
That gave the Tudors belief, and Vauxhall Road was sent into raptures shortly afterwards when fellow sub Victor Osubu rifled them level with a stinging drive from the edge of the area in the third minute of added time.
Neither team was willing to risk losing the game in extra-time, although it was Hemel who had the better of the chances.
With no further goals, the game proceeded to penalties, where Gosport held their nerve to triumph 5-4 and seal promotion.
> For full report and reaction, see this week’s Hemel Hempstead Gazette, out on Wednesday.