Hemel Town to host National League high-flyers Solihull in last-16 of FA Trophy
Tudors’ boss Joe Deeney was delighted with his side’s 4-2 triumph over Wingate & Finchley on Saturday which powered his side into the last-16 of the FA Trophy – the furthest the club have ever reached in the premier non-league cup competition – where Solihull Moors now await.
Deeney couldn’t fault his players’ work rate on Saturday at Vauxhall Road, which is what he continues to build on, but said his side still needs to cut out the sloppy spells they have been guilty of in recent games, he told Gazette match-day reporter Allan Mitchell.
The draw for the last-16 took place on Monday and Hemel were given a juicy home tie against top-class opposition. They would play the winner of a replay between National League sides Solihull Moors and FC Halifax, which was played last night (Tuesday).
Moors, who are riding high in third place in the fifth tier of English football and just three points off top spot, ended up beating Halifax 1-0 after a 55th-minute Nathan Blissett goal.
To advance to the quarter-finals, the Tudors will have to repeat their heroics from the first round when they beat National League opponents Eastleigh at Vauxhall Road.
The last-16 takes place on Saturday, February 2, with winning clubs earning £8,000 from the prize fund.
Saturday’s clash with Isthmian League Premier Division outfit Wingate saw the Tudors pushed all the way by their lower-league opponents, who looked dead and buried at 4-0 down but then scored two goals in as many minutes in the second-half to bring the tie back in the balance.
Darren Ward made up for an early miss by toe-poking the ball home on 18 minutes after a scramble in the six-yard box. It was the defender’s first goal of the season and one the Tudors deserved for all their pressure.
Herschel Sanchez Watt made it 2-0 on 33 minutes with a classic counter attack. A long ball was controlled by Watt, who beat the offside trap before chipping the Wingate keeper from 25 yards. The ball took an age to drop but it eventually went in via the far post.
Hemel added a third right on half-time when Ward arrived unmarked at a corner to bury a header home for his second of the game.
The hosts went 4-0 up five minutes after the break when a superb flowing move down the right ended with Jack Snelus crossing for Watt, who had an easy tap-in for his brace.
But just when it looked like the visitors had capitulated the Tudors took their foot off the gas and were made to pay.
Wingate skipper Sean Cronin looped a header over a defender on the line and into the net from a corner on 55 minutes and Hemel fans started getting nervous two minutes’ later when Cronin converted a penalty after indifferent defending ended in a clumsy trip in the box.
However, Hemel managed to see the game out from there.
Deeney said afterwards that his players have completely bought into his ideas and what he is trying to achieve. He also said he is looking at his attacking options and is aware this is an area that needs to be strengthened but does not want to sign a player just for the sake of it.
Any new arrival must want to come to the club and have the right attitude, he added.
Deeney asked fans to be patient as everything is still a work in progress, but he is pleased with the way things are shaping up.
Asked about key defender Ismail Yakubu, who limped off on Saturday, Deeney confirmed he picked up a hamstring injury that may keep him out for a few weeks but said he has sufficient back-up in James Kaloczi, Ollie Swain and possibly Tom Hamblin.
This Saturday sees Hemel turn their attention back to the National League South when they host Hampton & Richmond Borough, who are just a place and two points below them in the table in 16th.
The early-season return fixture on the road ended in a 2-1 victory for Hemel thanks to goals from Kyle Connolly and Watt.