At two-goals down early in the second half at Vauxhall Road on Saturday, St Albans Cityâ€™s grip on the Herts Charity Cup looked to be in serious doubt but a comeback inspired by Chris Henry was crowned by a spectacular last minute John Frendo free kick as City grabbed a sensational 3-2 victory.
Frendo, last seasonâ€™s top marksman in the Southern League, squandered several good chances before the interval.
But the maestro underlined just what a threat his likely to be again over the coming months with a left-footed free kick struck with prodigious swing that left Tudors keeper Alex Tokarczyk groping in vain at thin air. The man who won the vital free kick was Henry.
After replacing Aston Goss, scorer of the first goal, on the hour Henry repeatedly sprinted past the Hemel right-back Danny May and when he switched flanks to make way for the arrival Layne Eadie, Henry simply gave left-back Ryan Plowright the same torment. It was old fashioned wing play carried out to devastating effect.
Just for good measure Henry also scored the second City goal.
Hemel had the better of the early exchanges forcing a handful of corners that posed no threat to a City defence well led by Ben Martin. Unfortunately for City, Martin will miss the opening league fixture at Poole Town next Saturday through suspension.
St Albans created the better chances but former Saints trialist Tokarczyk saved easily from Frendo and the excellent Ryan Ashe before doing well to beat out a powerful drive from Frendo.
Playing up the slope during the second half Hemel brought on former Saint David Hutton for the restart and midway through the half gave a run out to Lewis Toomey who was Cityâ€™s leading goal scorer for much of last season.
As with the opening 45 minutes, Hemel started brightly and were only denied a goal by two desperate, but brilliant, blocks by the diving Darren Locke that thwarted Olly Hawkins and Charlie Mpi.
The second block conceded a corner and from Mayâ€™s 52nd minute set-piece Hawkins opened the scoring with a header that deflected off the arm of Martin and past Paul Bastock.
A minute later Tudors midfielder David Pearce beat Bastock with a firm drive that went at speed to the left of the flat-footed keeper.
Hemel looked to be coasting to victory but on 55 minutes City, out of the blue, came back into the frame.
James Comley made one of his familiar runs towards the opposition penalty area when a tackle sent the ball into the air.
As the ball dropped Goss, hitherto a peripheral figure, hammered a clean first time left-footed strike from the edge of the box to the right of the diving Town keeper to mark his City debut with a fine goal.
City were now a different proposition and a minute later Comley flashed an effort low and just wide of the target.
Goss and Greg Ngoyi, who struggled to get into the game although this was partially due to a lack of quality down the City flanks, made way for Henry and Matt Taylor on 60 minutes.
Within seconds of coming on Henry forced Tokarczyk into saving at the near post while a second low cross was cleared from right in front of the goal. As Henry blossomed the usually dependable May was run ragged.
St Albans growing dominance was rewarded with the equalising goal on 68 minutes.
Tokarczyk punched away a Comley corner to the edge of the penalty area. Ashe shot for goal but sliced his shot wide, however, the quick thinking Martin, with his back to goal, hooked the ball over his head and just under the crossbar.
A defender headed the ball up onto the crossbar but as Hemel dithered Henry latched onto the rebound to crack home his 17th goal in 63 games for the Saints.
The nearest Hemel came to slowing Cityâ€™s charge saw Pearce have a shot collected comfortably by Bastock. As most of the action centred on the bottom, home, goal the Tudors keeper had to twice stretch to catch efforts from outside the penalty area by Henry while a spooned shot from Eadie dipped over the crossbar.
Just as the game looked to be drifting towards a penalty shoot-out Henry, at the start of added time, cut in from the right one more time and won a free kick after being pulled back.
Comley ran over the dead ball and looked on as Frendoâ€™s trusty left foot sent a wickedly curling effort just inside the far post as he became the 217th player to score on his City debut.