St Albans City teetered on the brink of a humiliating Herts Senior Cup defeat on Tuesday before overturning Spartan South Midlands League side Hadleyâ€™s two-goal lead at Clarence Park to take their place in the last four.
It was a close call for the Saints as Micky Hazardâ€™s side also hit the woodwork twice and embarrassed an experimental City defence on a number of other occasions.
That said, City did create the greater number of goal scoring opportunities during an eventful and entertaining first meeting of the two clubs at First team level.
St Albans gave a first run out to three trialists, while youngsters Alex Yearwood and Jack Green were also given another chance to stake a claim for regular First team action.
Right back Connor Roberts, 18, is currently with Northampton Town and has recently spent a month on loan to Biggleswade Town.
Striker Michael Malcolm has, most recently, been playing for Wealdstone but amongst a multitude of clubs has also seen service with Stockport County, Weymouth and Farnborough.
Completing the trio of trialists was former Leyton Orient junior Stephen Oâ€™Hara, who has already turned out for the City Reserves and Under-21â€™s this season.
Hadley, who include former City Reserve team manager Franco Sidoli in their management team, fielded three ex-City players and one-time Arsenal youngster Jernade Meade, who gave a sparkling display.
St Albans began positively with both Charlie Smith and Sam Corcoran testing Hadley keeper Charlie Mann from set pieces.
But once Hadley got accustomed to the surroundings they created a succession of openings and were quick to pounce on a number of City passes that went astray.
Dom Petrucci scored twice in 26 games for St Albans during the 2010-11 season and added a further 23 goals for the Reserves, and he was keen to show that he still knows where the goal is.
After a winning a free kick off Omar Beckles, Petrucci hammered the resulting set piece against the crossbar.
A minute later, the 17th, Petrucci fired a penalty high to Tom Coultonâ€™s right to open the scoring after Green had impeded Dan McAteer.
Coulton was soon back in the thick of the action to save a powerful drive from Martin Fannery, while at the other end Mann comfortably took a John Frendo header.
The small crowd were given a moment to savour on 27 minutes when Petrucci scored a spectacular second goal.
As City failed to get under a high ball that landed just inside their own half, Petrucci wasted no time in launching a glorious right-footed half volley from close on 40 yards that sailed over Coultonâ€™s head, landed on the goalline and bounced up into the roof of the net.
It was quite brilliant.
Having comeback from three-down to defeat Cheshunt in the previous Round, City will not have been unduly concerned at trailing two-nil.
But it was only thanks to an upright that the deficit did not increase when Alan Murray struck the woodwork from 22 yards with the City defence all at sea.
A touch of reality returned to the game on 37 minutes when City, following good approach play by Smith and Green, pulled a goal back when Frendo clipped a rare right-footed shot to the left of the diving Mann.
Although St Albans took control for the remainder of the half, Hadley went close to restoring their two-goal advantage when Coulton, not without some difficulty, beat away a shot from McAteer that bounced awkward in front of the keeper.
City captain James Comley was rested at half time but that was of little comfort to Hadley, as teenage substitute Alex Yearwood caused problems with a number of exhilarating runs down the left wing.
St Albans drew level just four minutes into the second half after Yearwood went on a lengthy run to win a corner.
Smithâ€™s corner was not a particularly good one but it found David Keenleyside on the edge of the penalty area.
With space around him, Keenleyside drove the ball goalwards and with a gentle deflection Malcolm, from just a few yards out, nudged the equaliser beyond the sprawling Mann as he became the 224th player to score on his City debut.
Although Hadley still posed the occasional problem for the home side, most of the attention became focused on the Hatfield Road goal, as St Albans probed for the winner.
Corcoran went close, and Frendo volleyed over from close in following a cross by Malcolm before just failing to convert a cross by Roberts as City pushed forward.
Hadley were just about hanging on as City weaved some intricate moves deep inside the visitors half.
Roberts, after neatly bringing down a cross by Smith, was next to be denied as Mann saved well at close range.
Still the Saints piled forward and the post came to Hadleyâ€™s rescue after Malcolm applied a gentle touch to an angled drive from Frendo.
Hadleyâ€™s resistance was admirable and it was so nearly rewarded when the excellent Meade laid the ball into the path of Petrucci who struck his shot crisply but could not beat Coulton.
Immediately the attention swung back to the other end with Keenleyside feeding Frendo who was only kept out by Mannâ€™s outstretched leg.
City finally found a way through for their third goal on 79 minutes.
Keenleyside swept a perfect crossfield ball to Yearwood who floated a delightful ball into the goalmouth for Frendo to beat Mann with a point blank header.
It was the City strikerâ€™s seventh goal in three county cup ties this season.
St Albans wanted more goals but, with efforts by Meade and Petrucci, Hadley remained in the hunt and with just four minutes left the Barnet side should have pulled level.
Beckles, playing in the middle of the defence alongside Oâ€™Hara who had replaced James Kaloczi early in the second half, got in a misunderstanding with Oâ€™Shea that resulted in the duo allowing a long kick by Mann to land behind them.
Petrucci was alert as to what was going on and should have completed his hat-trick from 18 yards but, instead, slashed wildly at the ball and spooned his shot well wide.
Joint-City manager James Gray, speaking after the game, was full of praise for his youngsters and the more experienced Malcolm who he hopes to sign as a replacement America-bound Cameron Lancaster.
Roberts, after a nervy opening to the game, certainly caught the eye with several surging runs down the flank and well struck crosses.
Two of the other three quarter final ties were postponed with Boreham Wood being the only other side definitely through to the last four.
St Albans are back at Clarence Park on Saturday, 17th January, when Concord Rangers are the visitors for a Conference South fixture, kick off is at 3pm.