Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting ECS to 80360, or email »
Last gasp Cup agony for Witham
WITHAM TOWN 3 HEMEL HEMPSTEAD TOWN 4
FA Cup second qualifying round replay
Witham Town were left gutted as three goals in the last five minutes saw them knocked agonisingly out of the FA Cup.
Hemel Hempstead are leaders of the Calor Southern League premier division and arrived at the Village Glass Stadium perhaps expecting to make progress.
The prize on offer was a home tie in the third qualifying round against Dulwich Hamlet, but the visitors wouldn't have thought they would be made to work so hard for their win.
Witham were justly winning 3-1 with five minutes to go, but the relentless defending they needed to do throughout the second half eventually took its toll.
Witham made a slow start and seemed a bit overawed by their higher-place opponents.
And just as they had in the first meeting between the sides, they paid the price early on.
A free-kick into the box saw Hemel skipper Jordan Parkes rise almost in opposed and his delicately-placed header was just beyond the reach of home keeper Danny Sambridge.
It wasn't the start Witham wanted, but they conceded early on Saturday before settling into the game and so it proved in the replay.
While Hemel Hempstead retained the bulk of possession, the hosts found their defensive shape to blunt the edge of the Reds' attacks.
Meanwhile, Witham started to ask questions at the other end, with Tom Wraight and Danny Lopes finding space on either flank.
And it was those two combining that got Witham back on level terms.
Lopes' delightful ball over the top saw Wraight run on before lifting the ball past on rushing Hemel keeper Laurie Walker and into the net.
Witham were well worth their equaliser and continued pressing on the break as Hemel Hempstead kept putting men forward in numbers.
The visitors remained a threat and only an astonishing one-handed save by Danny Sambridge kept it equal, but it didn't stay that way for long.
Witham went down the other end and when the ball fell to Wraight on the edge of the box, he drilled a low effort home to make it 2-1.
That gave them the advantage at half-time and it was soon 3-1 after the break.
Wraight was instrumental once again as his pinpoint free-kick delivery was headed on and into the goal by Lewis Godbold.
It sparked jubilant scenes in the home dugout, but Witham knew the job wasn't nearly done.
They had defended heroically in the first half and had to again as the game wore on.
Hemel Hempstead peppered balls into the home box but Witham defended like men possessed, throwing their bodies in the way of crosses and shots.
They were unable to hold the ball at the Hemel end of the pitch and paid the price for that.
When substitute Lewis Toomey finally scored on 85 minutes, they steamed forward and quickly pulled level with a second from Toomey as extra-time beckoned.
But Witham hearts were completely shattered when David Pearce added a fourth deep into time added on to seal their own progress.
Nevertheless the Witham fans knew their players had performed heroics over 180 minutes and the final score line was harsh on them.