As any England fan will know, it’s a cruel, cruel way to lose a big match. In one of the most eagerly-anticipated games in the club’s history, Hemel Town were eliminated in the first round of the National League South playoffs tonight (Wednesday) after losing a penalty shoot-out.
It was a tight game throughout at Vauxhall Road in front of a big crowd of 1,169 fans, with the scores knotted at 0-0 after 90 minutes and still goalless after extra-time
Hemel edged the first-half while Braintree did most of the running in the second period and looked the more dangerous in extra-time.
In the shoot-out, Hemel skipper Jordan Parkes and Spencer McCall netted their spot-kicks but substitute Scott Shulton and forwards David Moyo and Herschel Sanchez Watt all missed theirs to give the Essex side a 3-2 win.
It was a bitter pill to swallow for the Tudors, who had twice beaten Braintree during the regular season.
In the second period of extra-time Tudors’ keeper Laurie Walker got down well to make a low save, one of many on the night. The stopper’s superb double-save in the first part of extra-time had kept his side in the tie.
Both teams had shouts for a penalties, Braintree possibly having the strongest case late in extra-time while Hemel’s Moyo twice felt he had been fouled in the box during the match.
In the second-half of normal time, Braintree were full of running, with Walker called into action a few times to snuff out half-chances.
Parkes had a decent opportunity in on goal but Irons’ net man Nathan McDonald was off his line quickly to make a great save and deny Hemel’s best chance of the second period.
The opening half was a close affair, just about edged by the hosts towards the end but it was still anyone’s game.
The first chance went to Hemel inside five minutes. Moyo checked his run as he thought he might be offside, sending him wide before he got a shot in that was saved down low by McDoanld.
A nice move from Braintree then worked the ball to ex-Tudor Luke Allen, whose shot was wild and went way over.
On 26 minutes Hemel went very close to opening the scoring, Parkes picked the ball up 12 yards out but his shot just sneaked past the post.
Two minutes later Moyo was tripped in the box while chasing a ball bound for the Irons’ keeper, but the referee was unmoved.
Just before the half-hour the visitors had a long-range effort after a fast break which went wide of the post.
With ten minutes of the half remaining, Sanchez Watt should have broken the deadlock after turning two defenders but when he eventually got off a shot, it was deflected into the side netting. Half the crowd behind the goal thought it had gone in.
Just before the interval, a dangerous Parkes free-kick was deflected wide by a Braintree defender.
Despite this huge disappointment, it has still been a creditable season with much to admire and Tudors’ boss Dean Brennan has done a fine job despite having to deal with a catalogue of injuries throughout.
Hemel v Braintree: Laurie Walker, Joe Howe, Kyle Connolly, Jordan Parkes (captain), Darren Ward, Lloyd Doyley (Ismail Yakubu), James Kaloczi (Karl Oliyide), Matt Saunders (Scott Shulton), David Moyo, Herschel Sanchez Watt, Spencer McCall. Subs not used: Alex Osborn, Danny Bonness.