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Iron & Beavers Through To Sunday`s South Semi-Finals

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Sunday`s Vanarama National League South play-off semi-finals will be between Dartford and Braintree Town and Chelmsford City and Hampton & Richmond Borough following Wednesday night`s eliminators.

When news broke about the first season of the new system of playing effective play-off quarter-finals, it`s true to say reaction was mixed.

However, it helped keep the season bubbling for a little longer and produced two tight, exciting ties.

There may have been no goals at Vauxhall Road as Hemel Hempstead Town, who finished fifth in the regular season, shared a 0-0 draw with the team who finished immediately below them, Braintree, but there was no lack of excitement for the crowd of 1,165 – the Tudors` second biggest of the season with only the New Year`s Day derby against St Albans City attracting more through the turnstiles.

Hemel had won both of the games against the Iron in the regular season so, with home advantage as well, they began as favourites to go through.

And they probably just about edged the game in terms of possession and chances, but neither side were able to break the deadlock, either in normal time or in extra-time.

So, it was down to the drama and lottery of a penalty shoot-out.

Scott Shulton, David Moyo and Sanchez Watt all failed to convert their penalties for the Tudors, while Marcel Barrington, Luke Allen and Dan Thompson all scored theirs for the visitors to go through 3-2.

At the Beveree, Hampton, who finished fourth, entertained a Truro City side who grabbed seventh spot and finished level on points with Braintree.

The Beavers lost in the play-off semi-finals last season, so were determined to make it through to try and make amends this time round.

However, they had failed to beat the White Tigers in three attempts in the regular season, drawing 1-1 in both league games and losing in the Emirates FA Cup.

And it was the visitors from Cornwall who took an early 8th minute lead in front of 922, when a long throw-in caused problems for the home defence and Rocky Neal was adjudged to have got the final touch through a crowd of players.

A brilliant save from Bristol City loanee keeper Jo-Jo Wollacott twice denied Max Kretzschmar an equaliser but Hampton equalised in the 34th minute when Shandon Baptiste’s effort was deflected into the path of Jack Cook who fired past Wollacott.

Truro started the second half brightly and were awarded a penalty when Ben Gerring was brought down inside the box by Charlie Wassmer for a penalty.

But Connor Riley-Lowe`s spot-kick was superbly saved by Beavers` keeper Seny Dieng.

It was end-to-end stuff in the closing stages, but it ended 1-1 and onto extra-time.

Hampton took the lead for the first time 9 minutes into overtime when sub
Bradley Hudson-Odoi fired into the far corner of the net to make it 2-1.

The Beavers ran the clock down before grabbing a late third goal on the breakaway in the last minute when Elliott Charles played through Hudson-Odoi to net his second and kill the game off and take Hampton to Melbourne Stadium on Sunday.

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