Blues journey in Trophy ends after poor first-half at Hemel

Wingate's Sean Cronin fires home from the penalty spot (pic Martin Addison)

Wingate's Sean Cronin fires home from the penalty spot (pic Martin Addison) - Credit: Archant

FA Trophy: Hemel Hempstead Town 4 Wingate & Finchley 2

Wingate & Finchley’s superb run in the FA Trophy came to an end on Saturday with a 4-2 defeat away to Hemel Hempstead Town.

After stunning two National League South sides to reach the second round for the first time in the club’s history, the Tudors proved too strong in this encounter, especially in the first half.

The opener quarter of an hour remained goalless, but the hosts took the lead with 18 on the clock.

Glen Little’s team failed to clear a corner and after some pinball in the penalty area, ex-Millwall defender Darren Ward was on hand to scuff home.

Just past the half an hour mark and Hemel increased their lead and thanks to another former Football League player.

Sanchez Watt, formerly of Arsenal and Colchester United, beat the offside trap and was able to lob Shane Gore impressively to make it 2-0 in the 33rd minute.

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The Blues thought they had got through the rest of the half without any more damage, but in stoppage time they conceded a third.

A corner was drilled to the edge of the six-yard area and Ward was there to apply the finish touch – this time with his head.

Wingate, of the Bostik Premier, were three down and facing a mauling and things got even worse in the 52nd minute.

Hemel’s fine team move concluded with Jack Snelus setting up Watt for a tap in with the second half less than 10 minutes old.

Little’s lowly side, to their credit, responded magnificently and reduced the deficit in the 55th minute.

A corner from Lewis Putman found Sean Cronin and his header looped in to make it 4-1 with 35 minutes left.

With a spring now in their step, Wingate attacked again almost immediately after the restart and got some more reward when they were awarded a penalty.

Up stepped the reliable Cronin and he did the business from 12-yards to set up what now looked an exciting finale at Vauxhall Road.

Blues pushed and pushed during the final half an hour in Hertfordshire, but National League South Hemel defended resolutely and managed to close out the tie.

It was a defeat for Wingate, but they could be proud of their efforts in the second half and their run in this season’s competition.

The journey in the 2018/19 FA Trophy may have ended for the Bostik Premier Blues, but the memories created will live on for a long time.