Hemel Town at a crossroads moment in playoff push

Hemel Town's Darren Ward celebrates with Ismail Yakubu after netting on his debut in a substitute appearance. (Picture by Terry Rickeard).
Hemel Town's Darren Ward celebrates with Ismail Yakubu after netting on his debut in a substitute appearance. (Picture by Terry Rickeard).
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The Tudors’ season could be at a crucial crossroads after Hemel Town lost for the third time in five league outings when they went down 4-1 at strugglers Oxford City on Saturday.

Hemel travelled to an out-of-form City hoping to get their promotion hopes back on track after a surprise home 1-0 defeat to relegation-threatened Poole in their previous National League South encounter.

City hadn’t won for five matches and had only picked up one point in those outings, so the odds were in favour of the fifth-ranked visitors.

But Hemel seem to have developed a bad habit of dropping points against teams in the lower-half of the table and that’s how it panned out on 17th-placed City’s 3G rubber-crumb artificial surface.

It’s just the second time this term that The Tudors have lost three games in a five-match spell (the last time was from August 19 to September 2) and Hemel boss Dean Brennan will now be hoping that their new signings last week – purchases of forward Karl Oliyide and central defender Darren Ward plus the loan signing of Sutton United defender Dan Spence – might give a big boost to his injury-hit squad.

In the end the 4-1 scoreline at Oxford flattered the hosts but there was no doubt they deserved the victory, even though the contentious sending-off of keeper Laurie Walker on 20 minutes changed the game fundamentally.

It resulted in Hemel dropping two rungs in the league table to sixth but they are still in the play-off places despite their recent rough run.

It makes their next game this Saturday on the road all the more important – at fellow promotion-chasing Chelmsford City, who are in fifth place. The two sides played their reverse fixture at Vauxhall Road just 18 days ago and on that occasion The Tudors ran out 3-1 winners.

Brennan will be hoping for more of the same this Saturday to give his side a lift and renew their push for a playoff place.

The new signings will certainly help as will the news last week that Hemel’s outstanding keeper Walker has signed a contract extension.