BRIDGWATER were just a minute or so from booking a place in the hat for the fifth round of the FA Vase, however, a very late equaliser was followed up by five successful penalties for the Kent club, writes Mark Hollidge.

United missed one of their penalties and were left to chew over this bitter disappointment.

This was definitely one that got away, when Jack Taylor’s second goal after 53 minutes put United two clear it looked more than likely that a home win would be the end result.

Tunbridge Wells, although having plenty of possession, had rarely threatened to score, in fact, their finishing could be described as mostly wayward.

The visitors did look a different proposition once they scored and making attacking substitutions aided their cause.

Recent drier weather had made the pitch a bit on the sticky side and a classic football experience was not going to happen.

The early goal from Taylor, after six minutes, gave United the lead and control, it came from a Jake Llewellyn corner kick that was drilled hard and at head height to the near post.

Bridgwater Mercury:

Tunbridge Wells were restricted to shots from distance, and they all missed comfortably, apart from collecting several high crosses, Jake Viney was not much involved.

At half time, United looked comfortable and composed and the second half started with a rush.

Tom Llewellyn drove towards the edge of the penalty area and his low shot was pushed away by Lee-Wharton.

His defenders scraped the ball away but almost immediately the ball was down the other end; Richard Atkins set up a very easy chance for Kyron Lightfoot, he should have scored but struck the bar instead.

When Taylor scored his second goal after 53 minutes it looked decisive, he himself crossed the ball from the left and picked out Williams but his shot was spilled and Taylor raced in and crashed it in the net from a few yards.

The game was going through a fairly uneventful phase when the visitors got one back after 69 minutes.

A deep cross to the far post was headed away from near the goal line, when the ball dropped Hudson cleverly hooked the ball over his head and past Viney.

In the act of scoring, Hudson had accidentally kicked Ross Edwards in the head, yet the referee deemed this to be acceptable.

This goal acted as a spur to Tunbridge Wells and United went too much on the defensive.

It did look like this approach would pay off because for the last twenty minutes the visitors didn’t fashion any chances to score although most of the play was in United’s half.

As their first goal was a bolt from the blue, then so was the second one in the third minute of time added on.

Robbie Bissett was given the time and space to rifle a low drive from fifteen yards across Viney and that was 2-2.

Bridgwater Mercury: Bridgwater beaten by Tunbridge (Pics: Debbie Gould)

Ironically and cruelly, it was Jake Llewellyn’s miss from the first United penalty kick that was to prove decisive.

Ironic because his record of scoring from penalty kicks is magnificent and cruel because he was one of United’s top performers on the day.

Tunbridge Wells scored all five and they were able to celebrate with their fans and their smoke bombs.

For the United players and supporters, this defeat was a hard one to take.