Hallen 2 Whitchurch United 1.
A desperate defensive mistake handed Western League Hallen a passage to the preliminary round of the FA Cup and a cheque for £1,500 on Tuesday night in Bristol as Whitchurch just failed to get past the home side for what was the fifth time in less than a year.
Carl Bennett’s depleted side battled throughout and were the better side for much of the game but in the end their Nemesis went through to an away day at Southern League Swindon Supermarine on Saturday week.
Fielding a side with half a dozen missing due to various reasons Bennett had Jack Garner up front and he went close on 15 minutes before Jamie Mansell’s drive was tipped onto the post by Sam Burgess only for Adam Pearson to sky the rebound out of the ground. Against the run of play Hallen broke and on 26 minutes Matt Tovey nodded a long cross past Brad Snelling and former Taunton Town striker Tom Collett knocked it in from on the line.
Pearson and home defender Dan Cockram both picked up cautions as the temperature rose before the Jam Boys deservedly got back into the game five minutes before the break when Scott Hassell nodded in a Josh Harfield corner. Hallen came back and both Andy Cook and Tovey were denied by superb saves from Snelling as the half ended.
Whitchurch looked well capable of taking the win and Pearson nodded a free-kick back for Jack McCarthy to shoot wide but just past the hour United shot themselves in the foot. A hopeful cross from Olly Butler reached the penalty area with no attacker in sight and when Pearson and Snelling left it to each other the ball ended up in the net. It was a crushing blow but to their credit ‘Church fought on and Scott Hassle brought a save out of Burgess before the home defence presented the ball to Mansell with seconds left but he skewed his shot wide and with it went the last chance of forcing extra time.