After beating Atherstone Town on penalties last week, this time Hinckley AFC suffered the other side of a shoot-out lottery as Droitwich Spa progressed to the play-off final.
After a pulsating 3-3 draw in normal time, and FA rules dictating matches go straight to penalties if level after 90 minutes, Sam Hurdman scored the winning spot kick for Spa after his brother Josh had scored a stunning equaliser late on.
Up until the last ten minutes, all looked rosy for Hinckley with Chandler Pegg scoring twice on his return from injury, including a fine strike of his own, to put them 3-1 ahead.
But Spa’s late show earned them a shot at a shoot-out and after goalkeeper Dom Rogerson saved from Josh Willis and Lewis Collins, Hurdman kept his cool to send the Worcestershire side through to Saturday’s final.
Pegg, Matt Dawson and Jack Edwards all made welcome returns from injury for Hinckley, with Isa Abraham the only injury absentee.
And although Droitwich had the first sight of goal when James Lemon lofted over, Hinckley had the better of the opening 45 minutes.
Despite that, they were still a little frantic at times and not at their fluid best, the best chances coming from set pieces as Willis and Jack Beasley both forced saves from Rogerson, the latter a particularly good stop from point blank range.
Spa still posed a threat of their own, and after Connor Collins blazed over after dispossessing Beasley, they took the lead just after the half hour. In a mirror of the opening goal from the league game between the sides in February, Alex Dugmore powered home a header from a set piece to put them ahead.
That sparked the game into life, and Hinckley were behind for just three minutes. Dawson grabbed the equaliser as he surged in from the right and unleashed a precise 25-yard shot that found the bottom corner.
That was a good strike, but what followed from Pegg was even better in first-half stoppage time. The ball broke loose around 25 yards from goal, and Pegg’s first-time snapshot on the turn flew over Rogerson and dipped underneath the bar to give his side the lead.
But AFC couldn’t capitalise on that and the away side had the better of the second period that followed. While there wasn’t too much goalmouth action, Droitwich had the majority of the territory and forced a series of corners and free kicks to put pressure on the Hinckley back line.
AFC rode that out though, Joe Obi with a particularly fine defensive header to deny Lemon, and Willis dragged wide when well placed after Hinckley’s best move of the half as they sought to extend their advantage.
And they did just that with 20 minutes to play to give themselves breathing room. Collins chased down a lost cause to dispossess Lewis Phillips and square for Pegg, who took one touch before burying past the defender on the line.
Rogerson then made a diving stop to deny Jac Redhead, and that proved crucial heading into the last ten minutes as Connor Collins soon converted from the spot after Beasley was penalised for holding in the box.
And just two minutes later, Hinckley were caught on the ball and Josh Hurdman raced towards the corner of the penalty area before unleashing a superb shot which flew into the top corner via the inside of the post.
It said something about that strike that it was arguably even better than Pegg’s, and set up the game for an edge-of-your-seat finale.
Joe McNulty headed over with Hinckley’s best chance, while Cameron Belford saved from Connor Collins as neither side could force the decisive goal.
And so, after waiting nine years to be involved in a penalty shoot-out, Hinckley had their second in the space of a week but Droitwich gained the early advantage when Rogerson saved from Willis.
The score was level at 2-2 after three each when Belford denied Perry Moss, but Rogerson saved from Collins to allow Sam Hurdman to make it a day to savour for his family with the winning penalty to extend Droitwich’s hopes of reaching step five.
Hinckley: Cameron Belford, Jack Beasley, Danny Fraser, Josh Willis, Joe Obi (Joe McNulty 66), Sam Walton, Matt Dawson, Robbie Bunn, Chandler Pegg (Tom Weale 76), Jack Edwards (Jac Redhead 57), Lewis Collins. Subs not used: Lewis Rankin, Harry Walker-Donovan.
Goals: Matt Dawson (35), Chandler Pegg (45+1)
Droitwich: Dom Rogerson, Jack Brighton, Lewis Phillips (Josh Hurdman 77), Cory Rudd, Alex Dugmore, Scott Braiden-Smith, Perry Moss, Charlie Tilley (Sam Hurdman 69), Connor Collins, James Lemon, Luke Molloy (Jack Davies 52). Subs not used: Ollie Thompson, James Deeprose.
Goals: Alex Dugmore (32), Connor Collins (81 pen), Josh Hurdman (83)