There was FA Cup heartbreak for Hemel Hempstead Town as two late goals condemned them to a 3-1 defeat at Bury in the first round proper of the world’s most famous domestic cup competition.
It looked as though the Tudors were going to hold on for a replay against their League Two opponents, with the scores locked at 1-1, but an 88th minute strike from Nathan Cameron and a stoppage time header from Danny Nardiello won the game for Bury.
It was a huge blow for the gutsy Tudors, who looked as thought they were going to earn a lucrative replay at Vauxhall Road on Tuesday – but it was not to be for Dean Brennan’s men.
After a promising start to the game, the Tudors took the lead on the 10 minute mark. The impressive Danny Talbot fed James Potton and his curling shot was tipped wide by Bury keeper Rob Lainton.
However, the resulting corner was only partially cleared and the same two men combined again for Hemel with devastating effect.
Talbot won the ball on the edge of the box and scooped the ball to Potton who beat Lainton with his left foot to put the Tudors ahead.
Bury responded well, though, and were back on level terms just five minutes later. A shot from Kelvin Etuhu was well blocked by Moussa Diarra, but Andy Tutte was on hand to lash home the leveller from 18 yards.
With both teams attacking strongly, Hemel came close to restoring their lead through Potton, but his fierce strike from the edge of the box was pushed wide by Lainton.
Bury should have had a penalty after 26 minutes as Was Daly clearly blocked the ball with his arm, but to the relief of the Hemel man, the referee waved the home side’s appeals away.
Daly was the saviour for Hemel in the 38th minute when he produced an excellent block on the line to keep the scores level. The ball was prodded goalwards from close range, but the Tudors midfielder was on hand to hack it away.
Hemel were briefly reduced to 10 men shortly before half-time when Jorrell Johnson was forced off following a clash of heads, and it required an heroic block from Talbot to prevent Bury taking advantage as the Tudors held firm to go in level at half-time.
Hemel boss Dean Brennan made a change at the interval; introducing Lewis Toomey in place of Johnson, before the substitute himself was taken off 10 minutes later as James Simmonds entered the game.
The first 10 minutes of the second half were fairly even, with Hemel defending well and restricting Bury to just a few half-chances, before Walker produced a super stop to deny Danny Rose.
Bury continued to apply pressure on the Hemel defence as the half progressed, and substitute Nardiello fired wildly over the bar when well placed in front of goal, before another handball appeal – this time against Diarra – was waved away.
There was a nervy moment for Hemel after 68 minutes when Rose beat Walker to a cross, but his effort crept agonisingly wide of the post for the hosts and the Tudors could breathe a sigh of relief.
Another chance came and went for Bury as Mills powered a header over the bar from close range in the 77th minute as the hosts continued to press forward in search of a second goal.
Walker produced another stunnig save to deny Tutte his second goal of the game with 83 minutes on the clock, before Mayor lashed over as Bury’s frustration increased.
However, just as it looked as though they would hold out for the replay, Hemel were caught out by Cameron who hooked the ball past Walker.
There was still time for a third goal deep into time added on when the ball was crossed into the box and Nardiello was on hand to head home past Walker.