Hemel Hempstead Town 1 Croydon Athletic 1
HEMEL Hempstead Town will travel to Croydon for an FA Trophy replay on Wednesday night after they were held to a 1-1 draw at Vauxhall Road.
The Tudors took the lead in the first qualifying round clash courtesy of an effort from Ryan Blake, but Connor French grabbed an equaliser for Croydon in the 70th minute.
Hemel could – and perhaps should – have won the game, but were lacking ruthlessness in front of goal.
Manager Tommy Widdrington said that he felt his side did enough to win the match, and is confident his team can triumph in the replay – but only if they continue to improve.
“We always look like scoring but we are conceding too easily as well,” he said. “We have to improve on converting our chances and that’s not just the strikers.”
“We got the goal on Saturday and one or two of the lads perhaps took their foot off the gas. Match fitness and mental fitness are areas where I need to get the lads to improve.
“But we are in the hat for the next round at the end of the day, so I’m pleased with that.”
The Tudors started the game well in front of a hopeful Vauxhall Road crowd, and Lewis Toomey volleyed over after combining with the returning Ross Lafayette.
Widdrington’s men continued to dominate and were rewarded for their enterprise as Blake put them in front after 11 minutes.
The Hemel man’s persistence down the right allowed him to race into the area before finishing from a tight angle with the aid of a slight deflection.
With the wind in their sails, Hemel pressed for a second, and Marquin Smith new signing Ryan O’Hara both came close to doubling the advantage.
The Tudors continued to dominate after the interval, but lacked the clinical touch needed to put the game to bed.
Twice O’Hara had shots saved by Croydon keeper Dave King, before Toomey fired an effort into the side netting.
And with 20 minutes left, the Tudors were made to pay for their profligacy.
From a Jamie England corner, Rams forward French found space to take a touch and then lash home the equaliser.
Both sides then had chances to win the game, but the teams could not be separated and will resume battle at the Keith Tuckey Stadium on Wednesday night.
“I’m not expecting an easy game in the replay by any means,” said Widdrington. “It is up to us to go out and do something which we haven’t done yet this season and that is to win away from home.”
The winners of Wednesday’s clash will face Brackley Town at home in the next round of the competition.