FIRST TAKE: Concord Rangers 2 Hemel Town 0 (HT 1-0), Saturday, March 25, 2017.
Salt was very much rubbed in the wound today as the Tudors fell 2-0 on the road today (Saturday) while former top-scorer Jake Robinson was netting for his new club in a lower division.
Robinson departed Hemel midweek to join Ryman Isthmian League Premier Division side Billericay Town, to become the Essex team’s £24,000 record signing.
The loss of Robinson, aged 30, was a bitter blow for the Vauxhall Road faithful after netting more than 20 times in the National League South this term, 13 of which came in this calendar year.
And it was even more keenly felt today when Hemel travelled to face 15th-placed Concord Rangers. Not only were they denied any points from the clash but also came away with zero goals to show for it.
Meanwhile, not many miles away in Dulwich, Billericay were winning 3-0 in their own away-day with Robinson opening his account with what was described as a “brave diving header”.
Both of Concord’s goals against the Tudors came from Nigerian-Englishmen Jordan Chiedozie, in the 29th and 59th minute, and Hemel were comfortably beaten by a side trying to pull away from the relegation zone.
Before the game, Rangers were only four points from the dropzone and 16 points separated the teams prior to kick-off.
Tudors’ keeper Jamie Butler was facing one of his former sides and Hemel had three academy players on the bench.
The game was played in windy conditions which made things tricky and Concord seemed to cope with it much the better.
Rangers had a low shot saved by Butler in the early going.
Hemel had their fair share of the ball in the first period but failed to carve out any substantial chances.
Concord took the lead when a looping header went over Butler and fell to Chiedozie, who applied a simple finish.
Rangers almost doubled their lead not long before the break when Dion Sembie-Ferris easily got down the right flank and found Amos Nasha, who poked it towards the near post only for Butler to make a good stop.
Around a quarter-of-an-hour into the second-half and Chiedoze did finally extend the Concord lead; a reward after he had kept knocking on the door. He made a devastating run at the Hemel defence and was finally stopped – when getting mercilessly chopped down.
Chiedozie took the free-kick himself and gracefully lofted a strike into the top left-hand corner for 2-0.
If there was one positive for Hemel, it was the appearance of academy boy Jesse Highfield who made his first-team debut when replacing skipper Jordan Parkes five minutes from the end.
The loss pushed the Tudors back down to 12th while local rivals St Albans beat third-placed Dartford 1-0 to move back ahead of Hemel in the table. East Thurrock also won at Weston-Super-Mare and leapfrogged the Tudors.
The loss of Robinson was keenly felt. Hemel reluctantly decided to let Robinson step down a division after receiving a satisfactory fee from Billericay, who were taken over by multi-millionaire steel magnate Glenn Tamplin three months ago.
Tamplin was reportedly pumping up to £10,000 a week into the New Road club and they have also recently signed former England and Liverpool left-back Paul Konchesky and ex-Spurs midfielder Jamie O’Hara.
Big-spending Billericay are still hopeful of reaching the playoffs [they were in 9th before today’s game but just five points separate 4th and 9th] and so could join the Tudors in the National League South next year.
Hemel’s next game is at Vauxhall Road on Saturday, April 1, (3pm) where they host face Dartford.
*See the Hemel Gazette this Wednesday for Allan Mitchell’s report from the game plus other Tudors news.