Andy Lampard took his Roffey team to SCEFL Premier side Tunbridge Wells without Callum Jardim, James Pearse, Ricardo Fernandes, Tiago Andrade, Jack Munday and top scorer Josh Neathey.
Roffey’s first ever FA Vase match couldn’t have been much tougher, with Wells fifth in the step above and seeking promotion to the Isthmian League.
With a ground and support looking ready for that level the hosts started impressively, testing Luis Correia into a couple of early saves from distance.
But it was Roffey who came closest in the early stages. Josh Maher escaped down the left, cut in and fired in a shot which came back off the inside of the post but unfortunately was scrambled clear.
With this, the visitors grew in confidence and on an excellent pitch, began to get their passing game going.
Both sides moved the ball quickly and with the Wells right winger showing frightening speed, Roffey had to make several blocks and Correia had to field several attempts on goal.
At the other end, the pace of Maher and Kelvin Lucas was causing uncomfortable moments for the home defence.
It was Lucas, on 27 minutes, who beat his man down the right to put in a dangerous cross that was set back to Dan Pearse to drive into the bottom corner from 20 yards.
Roffey continued to keep the hosts at arms length whilst keeping good possession and half-time arrived at 0-1.
The opening to the second half was fairly even but the hosts gradually started to push Roffey back and it began to look like a rearguard action with Hayden Neathey, Harry Law, Brendan Milborrow and Jamie Robinson having to pull out all the stops to keep Wells out.
Then, on 64 minute, Kyron Lightfoot whipped in a free kick which evaded a crowd of players and squeezed inside the far post to send the large home crowd into celebration.
They probably felt it would be just be a matter of time before a winner was found, but Lampard tweaked his team bringing Pearse more central and dropping Maher in on the left and with Wells making changes in search of a winner the game became a bit scrappy.
Roffey managed to get back on the front foot. Several attacks on the home goal in the last ten minutes could, with a bit of luck have made the difference.
At the same time Wells were always dangerous against a Roffey team who had given everything and it was probably a relief when the final whistle went.
Roffey lost the toss for choice over the end the penalties would be taken, so instead of moving to the end with no spectator accommodation, the drama was set to unfold in front of the home side’s ‘South Stand Choir’.
Pearse made no mistake with the first kick and Correia all but saved Wells’ first. Lucas then made it two, which was cancelled out by Wells’ second.
Maher had his shot saved and Wells scored. Law also saw Wells keeper Aaron Lee-Wharton block his effort but the next Wells kick went wide.
Roffey needed to score and another miss from Wells to stay in the shoot out. Unfortunately Brendan Neathey’s fierce drive was just too high and the South Stand celebrated.
However despite the disappointment, this was a fantastic effort from Lampard’s men and one can’t help wondering what might have been without all those absences.
Roffey return to SCFL Division One matters with a tough looking home game against Epsom & Ewell this Saturday.