Concord Rangers have proved to be a thorn in Hemel Town’s side, taking four points from their two games with the Tudors this season after the two sides drew 1-1 at Vauxhall Road on Saturday.
Hemel dominated the first half but thanks to some excellent goalkeeping they went in at the break with nothing to show for their efforts.
Indeed, they could have been 2-0 up inside the first five minutes and Rangers had to thank netminder Louis Wells, who made two brilliant saves, firstly from James Kaloczi, who shot from point-blank range. Wells blocked his effort and the ball looped backwards before crashing onto the bar and away for a corner.
Minutes later David Moyo’s close-range drive was again pushed away by Wells.
Concord’s only effort in the first period came when ex-Tudor Lewis Taaffe shot wide after a break down the left flank.
Hemel midfielder Scotty Shulton had a fierce drive deflected wide and then striker Antonio German saw his free-kick saved by Wells.
The half ended with Hemel well on top, but with nothing to show for their efforts.
Rangers have a reputation for being well organised at the back with pace on the counterattack, but they had showed little ambition in the first period and were content to let Hemel come at them.
At the beginning of the second-half, Wells saved another goal-bound effort from forward Will Hoskins and for the next 15 minutes Hemel remained in charge.
But just past the hour mark (67 minutes) Rangers took the lead against the run of play, when Steve Cawley blasted home a shot from the edge of the box that left Tudors’ keeper Laurie Walker helpless.
After the goal, Concord started to cause problems on the counter as they started to exploit the spaces now afforded to them as the home side pushed forward. Walker was called into action on more than one occasion, making excellent stops including a one-handed grab at a goal-bound effort from substitute Dan Beck that was world class.
Concord came to Vauxhall Road very much a team in good form and their league position (16th) certainly doesn’t do them justice. After a poor start they have started to climb the table and are unbeaten in five league games.
The goal and a couple of good substitutions saw the visitors grow in confidence and the game was now very much end to end.
Just when it looked as though the visitors might extend their lead, Hemel finally grabbed a deserved equaliser on 74 minutes.
German set up Hoskins, who turned well and made no mistake from close range for his third goal in the past two games.
Both sides had chances to win it near the end and Hemel sub Spencer McCall almost snatched the victory for the Tudors late on when he cut inside in typical fashion and curled his shot just wide of the far post with Wells beaten.
Concord then forced a couple of late corners to give the home fans some nervy last seconds but in the end the referee called time and the game concluded in a draw – probably a fair result over the course of 90 minutes.
The Tudors remain in sixth place in the National League South standings after this point and still have a game in hand over five of the other top-eight sides.
Next up for Hemel was the Boxing Day derby day clash with eighth-placed St Albans (see back page).
Hemel v Concord: Laurie Walker, Lloyd Doyley, Joe Howe, James Kaloczi, Kyle Connolly, Ismail Yakubu, Alex Osborn (Spencer Campbell), Scott Shulton, David Moyo (Jordan Parkes), Will Hoskins, Antonio German. Subs not used: Matt Spring, Danny Boness.