Put this one down as a day to forgot for the Tudors. To be forgotten and moved on quickly from, after Hemel Town lost 5-1 at National League South newcomers Chippenham Town yesterday (Saturday).
Perhaps it was the injury toll and excessive game load (eight games in the space of 29 days) which finally caught up with the lads but they were humbled in front of the second biggest crowd of the season (546) at Hardenhuish Park.
It was the Tudors’ biggest defeat since a 6-0 rout at Bath City (see below) last season. They also conceded five on the road at the hands of eventual champions Maidenhead last term and let in five at Vauxhall Road against Weston Super Mare towards the tail end of the last campaign.
On the face of it, the game looks to be an absolute drubbing, but the Blues didn’t really run away with it until the 83rd minute when the fourth goal went in. They piled on the pain in a mad minute to make the scoreline terribly lopsided.
Chippenham went in only 1-0 up at half-time through man of the match Scott Twine’s 41st minute goal when he slotted home a cross calmly from the right in between a mishmash of defenders’ legs.
Rowan Liburd had Hemel’s two best chances of the first period, but keeper Jared Thompson was able to stop both efforts.
Twine added a second just a minute into the second half after a route-one ball through the middle found David Pratt who made a neat dribble through the box and set up Twine for an easy right-foot finish.
But Hemel got back into the game on 52 minutes when the seasoned Phil Walsh nodded home from a sublime Ben Greenhalgh free-kick delivery to make it 2-1 and give the Tudors’ fans hope. Walsh has provided admirable cover at centreback this season, making six starts for the injured Ismail Yakubu and now Tom Hamblin.
The third goal came just after the hour mark through Pratt as he gave the Blues a two-goal cushion. He was played in over the top down the left and was given too much time as he cut inside to finish neatly into the bottom right-hand corner.
It was Pratt who added the fourth with seven minutes to go when he again enjoyed success down the left, set up a shot for a fellow Blues forward on the right and then slotted home the rebound after a Walker save.
And the sloppy fifth came a minute later through Ben Wyatt when a lofted ball was floated into the box on the right but was not dealt with by the Hemel defence and Wyatt nipped in to steal the ball and roll in a simple finish.
It was remarkable to see that prior to yesterday’s league clash, it was Blues’ boss Mark Collier who was facing job pressure with his promoted side in 16th place in the table, a predicament that led him to call the situation a ‘reality check’ rather than a ‘crisis’.
This result will likely go some way to silencing any doubters while Hemel boss Brennan will be looking for his squad to show strength of character, short memories and heads held up as they re-tool for the FA Cup.
One major positive to take from this game was seeing electrifying striker David Moyo make a return to the bench. The former Northampton and Brackley Town speedster has been out of action since August 1 with a broken toe suffered in a cup game against Ware.
Next up for Hemel is a trip to fellow National League South opponents Bath City next Saturday, September 30, in the 3rd qualifying round of the FA Cup (two victories from the competition-proper). In the league last year, there was the aforementioned 6-0 loss to the West Country outfit as well as a 3-3 humdinger at Vauxhall Road. They have yet to play each other so far this season.
Bath are in eighth place in the table, two spots higher than Hemel, and they are undefeated in their last six games (four wins, two draws). They drew 0-0 with Wealdstone yesterday and will be without suspended defender Darren Jones for next Saturday’s clash as he got sent-off with a straight red after just fine minutes yesterday.
Hemel: Laurie Walker, Kyle Connolly, Callum Driver, Ismail Yakubu, Phil Walsh, Alex Osborn, James Kaloczi, Matt Spring, Rowan Liburd, Charlie Sheringham (captain), Ben Greenhalgh. Subs: David Moyo, Jordan Parkes, Matt Hall, Sam Hatton, Danny Boness.