Much of the pre-match talk was whether Oxhey Jets could avoid their heaviest ever FA Cup defeat. A group of blue-shirted heroes are now preparing for a First Qualifying Round replay on Wednesday after achieving arguably the greatest result in the club’s 50-year history to hold Kingstonian to a 2-2 draw.

For a side at Step 5 level to achieve such a result against a team currently top of their division at two tiers higher in the non-league pyramid would have been significant in ‘normal’ circumstances. But there was nothing ‘normal’ about Jets’ build-up to the tie.

Former manager Stuart Atkins had resigned following the midweek defeat to Arlesey Town and several players followed him out of the exit door leaving the club’s preparations in disarray.

Ex-player Andrew Lomas and club captain Colin Jenkins answered Jets’ cry for help as the club put together a matchday squad consisting of some players returning, plus others from the veterans and development teams. What they achieved left Jets founder John Elliott close to tears.

The proud general manager said: “Arguably because of what’s gone on, because of the way it was put together, everything, I think it’s probably the best result ever in the club’s history.

“I don’t know how those boys even walked the next day because they gave everything. I didn’t see a single player not give every ounce he had out there. It was incredible.

Watford Observer:

Some of the Jets players were flat out at full-time after giving everything

“I’ve very rarely in all my years at this club been moved to tears but at the end of that game I was holding them back and so were many players. I was going over to every player and, honestly, there were tears in people eyes. I think that’s what it meant to people. They had given above and beyond.”

Elliott could not speak highly enough of the man who stepped up to run the team and the manner he went about what was a daunting proposition against a side top of the Isthmian League Premier Division after enjoying a 100 per cent start to the season.

He said: “I pray Andy Lomas will come back as the manager of Oxhey Jets one day because I have never seen a man go out there for what I presume was his first management experience and hold a change room with his tactics, his calmness. I was in awe of him almost. It was incredible to watch.

“He was always a completely professional footballer for Oxhey Jets. He was a model footballer before he moved on to play much higher football. He was an absolute model manager on Saturday.”

Both Lomas and Jenkins are unavailable for the replay though, and so Jets stalwarts Marc Ayres and Wayne Gladdy will take the team with a permanent successor for Atkins yet to be appointed. Elliott is hoping they will be assisted by former Northwood boss Mark Burgess after he also helped out on Saturday.

Jets manged to keep Kingstonian at bay until early in the second half when Rhys Murrell-Williamson scored after a strong run in from the right wing.

The hosts did not falter though, and stuck to the gameplan, and they were rewarded four minutes later thanks to a great header from Lewis Putman.

Watford Observer:

Lewis Putman equalised with this superb header

Kingstonian regained the lead on 65 minutes, a fine cross setting up a simple tap-in for Murrell-Williamson to get his second.

However, Jets refused to lie down and levelled in the 79th minute when Putman equalised with a penalty after he had been brought down in the area.

Watford Observer:

Putman levelled for a second time from the penalty spot

Kingstonian had claims for a penalty and thought they had snatched the win when Declan Skura’s shot was scrambled away, with the referee and his assistant not convinced the ball had crossed the line as Jets held out on one of their greatest days.

Elliott said: “The crowd was just amazing – and amazing is the right word because South Oxhey decided they would turn out to support their local side that was having an awful week. I think all 300 people stayed to give the teams a standing ovation off the pitch. South Oxhey was amazing on Saturday to us.”

Saturday’s events have also helped restore some of Elliott’s faith in the game after what had been a very tough few days for him personally.

He said: “I’ve had managers from other clubs offering to help me on Wednesday. I don’t know if that’s total respect or sympathy but what a fantastic gesture from people.

“Out of all the heartache that’s gone on in the past week there’s been things that made me think ‘this is maybe why we do it’. Or it’s helped balance out ‘I can’t really take much more of this’.”

Watford Observer:

Kingstonian thought they had snatched the win

Wednesday night’s replay at King George’s Field will kick-off at 7.45pm and the winners will face either Haywards Heath Town or Horsham in the Second Qualifying Round.