Fans were treated to an exciting 1-1 draw as Oxford City made the trip across the Chiltern Hills for their Emirates FA Cup fourth round qualifying tie with Hemel Hempstead Town.
Both sides play in the National League South and were relishing the opportunity to reach first round.
Oxford City enjoyed a fairytale run last season, reaching the second round after defeating Colchester United.
Although they bowed out to Notts County in heartbreaking fashion, the financial benefits for the club were immense.
- Emirates FA Cup
- Fourth Round Qualifying
- Saturday 20 October
- at Vauxhall Road
- Winning club to receive £25,000
“At our level, it’s absolutely massive. You can’t beat it, the feeling around the club, everyone is buzzing.”
Hemel’s Vauxhall Road home was bathed in autumn sunshine and pre-match spirits were high around the ground, with supporters of all ages proudly sporting the red of Hemel and the blue and white of City.
In charge of Hemel Hempstead Town was caretaker player-manager Jordan Parkes, who had history on his mind.
He said: “For the players and fans, it’s all about memories. That was my team talk. It’s all about creating memories.
“You remember the feelings, the buzz, the players and the smells. You remember everything about it. It’s all about those memories and the magic of The FA Cup.”
Hemel and Oxford City had already notched up a combined 20 goals in the competition so far, and it looked certain to be an attacking affair.
And so it proved to be with both sets of fans in full voice as the first half began at a frantic pace.
Momentum swung back and forth with a number of chances for both sides. The most dramatic of which was a long-range free-kick from Parkes, who saw his swinging effort crash against the crossbar and rebound on to goalkeeper Craig King’s head, only to bounce out of play.
The end-to-end style of the game continued in the second half and finally it was Hemel's Phil Roberts who broke the deadlock seven minutes after the restart.
Roberts was gifted the ball outside the box and had time and space to accurately fire the Tudors into the lead.
It took another 20 minutes for Oxford to draw level. Substitute Craig Fasanmade danced into Hemel’s box before shooting at a tight angle. The chaotic scramble that followed led goalkeeper Laurie Walker to inadvertently bundle the ball over the line.
The equaliser sparked the game back into life and the final 15 minutes were fiercely contested. Both sides had opportunities to score a winner, but time ran out and the tie ended in a draw.
Parkes added: “Today was a fairly even game, we knew it was going to be tough. Two attacking teams that wanted to play football. We’ll go to Oxford with the same positive mindset.”
The teams will face off once more in the replay on Tuesday evening at Court Place Farm.