Hadley reached the Fourth Round Proper of the FA Vase for the first time as they beat Spartan South Midlands League side Colney Heath on penalties following a goalless stalemate.
Both sides tried to win the game in normal time but a mixture of good defending and missed chances kept the score level with the hosts taking their chances in a shootout to progress in the competition.
Hadley had the earliest chances as they looked to break the deadlock early. Sam Edwards fired a free-kick into a Colney Heath wall before Solomon Ofori was denied by the keeper. The visitors came under some real pressure as Hadley continued to dominate. Ofori got beyond the defence again but his ball to Jordan Edwards in the middle was behind the forward and Colney were able to clear their lines.
The hosts were forced into an early change as two of the Hadley players clash heads with Luke Alfano being taken off and replaced by Ed Davis. Paul Wright received treatment on the touch line as Hadley were temporarily down to 10-men for 5-minutes. Colney Heath had a brief foothold in the game as they sought to open the scoring. A corner was hit onto the roof of the net before George Oevine went up for a header but Luke Ward claimed well. Solomon Ofori tried to get Hadley in front immediately after as he made a great run but was denied by a block on the line.
Oevine had a shot blocked from the edge with half-hearted shout for handball which were ignored by the referee before Colney had a man-down but the hosts continued with their own shouts for handball waved away. The injury to the Magpies player forced him off as Spencer Clarke-Mardel was replaced by Danny Fitzgerald. As the game approach half-time, Hadley had one of the best chances of the game. A drilled effort was driven across goal but no one was close enough to tap home before Ofori was almost played through but the ball was taken away from him before he could have a shot at goal. Hadley’s Teddy Stacey drove another low ball towards the back post but again, no one was close enough to tap home.
It was almost the perfect start to the second-half for the Bricks as a free-kick was parried behind in the opening minutes before Edwards narrowly sent the corner over by inches. Billy Baird almost helped Hadley go ahead as he swing a free-kick into the box but it eluded the touch of everyone.
The contest become fiery on and off the pitch as both benches complained at the decisions of the referee while tougher tackles were being thrown all over the pitch. Colney Heath had some good possession but couldn’t make the most of it as they struggled to create a clear opening with the game becoming cagey as both sides tried to avoid making a mistake towards the end of the game. Alex Clarke pulled off a superb save to deny Hadley an opening before Colney wondered how they weren’t ahead as a free-kick was aimed towards the back post but was another ball that eluded everyone who tried to get a touch.
As the entered the final 10-minutes, both sides tried to get the decisive goal to send them through. Colney’s Jack Woods make a great run down the left hand side before sending in a teasing ball but no one was close enough to tap home. Hadley had a huge shout for handball waved away with 5-minutes to play before the hosts tried to win the game at the death. Peter Rosemin tried to fight his way through the Magpie’s defence but was dispossessed before Ofori tried to break through in added time but sent his effort over the bar.
As the referee brought the game to an end, it went to penalties to decide the teams fate.
Bradley Marriott began the shootout with a goal as Hadley went 1-0 while Jay Lovell sent his kick over the bar. Sam Edwards converted his kick before Dominic Knaggs saw his effort rattled the crossbar. Both Stephen O’Hara and the Colney taker scored to make it 3-1. A goal from Ed Davis was enough to send Hadley through as they won 4-1 on penalties.