KEEPER Freddie Hester took WGC into the last four of this season's SSML League Trophy and an away semi at the winners of the upcoming Codicote v AFC Dunstable quarter-final, by saving opponents Broxbourne Boro's fifth and final penalty in an anxious spot-kick shoot-out.
For Hester, who has only come into the Citizens' line-up in the past fortnight, replacing unavailable Jamie Jackson and injured Joe Croft, it was personal redemption , as he was at fault for the visitors' second goal that gave them real hope, as they battled back from 3-0 down in the opening quarter.
Adam Fisher's side began this long delayed tie in cracking fashion, going 3-0 up in 16 minutes.
Dave Parkinson got down the left in four minutes, crossed low and Ashley Kersey side-footed home on the far post for 1-0 before Broxbourne had settled.
In 13 minutes it was two, a Danny Payne pass split the visitors' back-line and sent Josh Bronti down the other flank. He crossed and although Jason Caswell completely mis-kicked with his first attempt, when the ball came back to him, Caswell squeezed in the chance.
Three minutes later the tie looked over. Joe Price won a fine tackle in midfield to set Bronti free and as Broxbourne keeper Adam Seymour advanced, Bronti chipped in the third over the keeper.
But Broxbourne soon battled back. WGC's acting skipper Jay Lovell miskicked and Borja Camacho made him pay, slipping inside Lovell and Jay Welsh to unleash an unstoppable effort into the roof of the net for 3-1.
WGC suffered a further blow when they lost the influential Payne with an elbow injury in a fall, youth-team midfielder Nathan Dimmock replaced him.
Ten minutes from the break, Broxbourne were right back in the tie, when keeper Hester misjudged visiting skipper Sean Flaherty's looping header from a corner and falling backwards into his goal, could only fumble it in.
WGC had a late chance in the half to restore a two goal advantage, Dimmock putting Parkinson through on the keeper, but Seymour saved with his legs.
The Citizens also had a good chance to open the second-half with a goal, the ball falling to Kersey from a challenge on fellow forward Bronti, but he struck his effort wide.
It proved one of the few openings WGC had in the second period, as their East Herts visitors pressed for most of the half, to get on terms.
WGC were very grateful to Caswell, who got back on the goalline to clear an overhead Flaherty effort off the line and then keeper Hester did well to push away a John Megicks free-kick, to preserve the slender lead.
But with just over 20 minutes remaining, Broxbourne tied matters up scoring directly from a left-wing corner, substitute Mark Brennan's flag kick clearing everyone in a crowded area to finish in the bottom corner, for 3-3.
WGC's best effort to win the tie came from a Yasin Boodhoo header from a corner, when he escaped his marking, to power his effort just wide.
With no extra time, the tie went straight to a penalty shoot-out.
WGC's first four takers - Bronti, Welsh, Kersey and Dimmock - all netted successfully as did their Broxbourne counterparts. Joe Price put away WGC's fifth, but when Broxbourne substitute Ryan Wade stepped up, Hester pulled off a fine save and took WGC into the last four with a 5-4 penalty shoot-out win.
WGC: Hester, Tring (L) (Perrin 66), Boodhoo, Lovell, Welsh, Payne (Dimmock 34), Price, Caswell, Bronti, Kersey, Parkinson (Ball 68).