Braintree Town win penalty shoot-out as Sanchez Watt hits bar with last spot kick

As the sun sets at Vauxhall Road, Braintree Town midfielder Luke Allen rises high to win this header

As the sun sets at Vauxhall Road, Braintree Town midfielder Luke Allen rises high to win this header during the play-off win at Hemel Hempstead Town. Picture: CARL MARSTONi - Credit: Archant

Hemel Hempstead Town 0 Braintree Town 0 (Braintree win on 3-2 on pens)

Braintree Town left-back Rickey Gabriel prepares to take a throw-in during the National League South

Braintree Town left-back Rickey Gabriel prepares to take a throw-in during the National League South play-off tie at Hemel Hempstead. Picture: CARL MARSTON - Credit: Archant

Braintree Town won a penalty shoot-out, after a goalless draw at Hemel Hempstead Town, to advance into the National League South play-off semi-finals tonight.

Neither side could score during the normal 90 minutes, or during the 30 minutes of extra-time, but it was The Iron who kept their cool to win the shoot-out 3-2.

Nathan McDonald saved former Iron midfielder Scott Shulton’s spot kick when it was 2-2, and David Moyo then put his effort wide after Diaz Wright had rattled the bar with his for the visitors.

Daniel Thompson slotted home his penalty to make it 3-2, and it was left to ex-Arsenal and Colchester winger Sanchez Watt to take The Tudors’ fifth penalty, which he fired onto the bar.

Hemel Hempstead Town's Matt Saunders gives Braintree midfielder Billy Crook the slip during the firs

Hemel Hempstead Town's Matt Saunders gives Braintree midfielder Billy Crook the slip during the first half at Vauxhall Road. Picture: CARL MARSTON - Credit: Archant


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That prompted scenes of jubilation for Brainttree’s players and supporters.

They will now travel to Dartford for the semi-final on Sunday.

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Hemel Hempstead, nicknamed The Tudors, created the first chance of the game on nine minutes. Striker Moyo homed in on goal, but the angle was tight and keeper Nathan McDonald saved well with his legs down at his near post.

The Iron had won five of their last six matches, to sneak into the play-offs, and they gradually began to settle, without threatening keeper Laurie Walker.

The Tudors were close to an opener when skipper Jordan Parkes’ thunderbolt whistled only a foot wide of the upright, with McDonald at full stretch.

Sanchez Watt, the former Colchester United winger, had a clear sight of goal in the 34th minute, but his close-range shot was deflected wide by defender Josh Hill.

It continued to be very cat-and-mouse at the start of the second period, although Daniel Thompson did rifle a long-range shot wide on 50 minutes.

McDonald came to his side’s rescue with a wonderful save on 65 minutes. Parkes was clean through on goal by Spencer McCall’s inch-perfect pass, but McDonald rushed off his line to save at point blank range.

Iron defended deeper and deeper, but nearly grabbed a winner with four minutes of normal time remaining, as defender Hill’s well-struck volley from a corner whistled a foot over the bar.

Allen came the closest to snatching victory in extra-time, only to be denied by a wonderful point-blank range save by Walker, and the visitors also had two strong appeals for penalties turned down, one for a blatant foul and one for handball.

BRAINTREE: McDonald, Muleba, Gabriel, Hill, Okoye, Wright, Allen, Crook (sub Wyatt, 70), Grant (sub Michael-Percil, 75) Thompson, Barrington. Unused subs: Frimpong, Bettache, Aldridge.

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