Hemel Hempstead Town made it four wins from their opening five National League South games of the season as they beat Concord Rangers 3-0 on a glorious Saturday afternoon at the Aspect Arena.
Jamie Slabber put Hemel two goals in front, before Ben Herd wrapped up the win from the penalty spot deep into stoppage time at the end of the game.
Former Tudor Arthur Lee was starting for Concord after his recent switch, but it was Hemel who should have taken the lead after three minutes.
Superb wing play by Jamal Lowe gave Slabber a chance to open the scoring; the much travelled striker was six yards out with the goal gaping, but the ball dribbled off his ankle and Ben McNamara in the Concord goal gratefully mopped up.
Concord immediately strode down the field and the returning Jeremy Walker linked up with Joe Gardner on the right hand side. Gardner crossed, and there was pinball in the Hemel box, but the ball just would not fall for the Concord strikers, and the danger was cleared.
Hemel took the lead after seven minutes, and it all started with the pace of Dennis Oli. He burst down the right hand flank, and pulled his cross back for Slabber. The striker’s first shot was parried by McNamara, but the ball fell back to the Hemel man who tucked it home.
As the sun shone down on the pitch, the pace of the game slowed and chances were certainly at a premium. Concord were proving a threat from set plays, with Ben Greenhalgh’s excellent delivery causing problems. On 31 minutes a corner found an unmarked Steve King who went for goal, however his downward header was hacked away.
As the half came to close, Concord danger man Lewis Taaffe suffered a dead leg in a 50/50 challenge. Taafe did not return for the second half, and would be replaced by Tony Stokes.
Hemel made their intentions clear at the start of the second period, when central midfielder Matty Harriott bent in a dangerous shot, which went just wide of the post after 46 minutes.
Concord were struggling to get a foothold in the game as Hemel were dominant all over the park. Matt Spring in the centre of midfield was showing his experience by retaining possession and always being available for the ball.
It was no surprise when Hemel extended their lead on the hour mark as lively winger Lowe again tricked his way to the touchline; his cross fell to Slabber in the penalty box, and the striker steadied himself and bent the ball past the despairing McNamara.
Concord made a change and Steve Cawley was brought on for George Doyle, but the frontman’s introduction did not change the course of the game. Hemel were in control, and Oli had a great shot tipped over the bar by McNamara on 63 minutes.
The game was being played in sweltering conditions, and with a two-goal lead Hemel took off goalscorer Slabber. The job had been done by the away side – it was just not Concord’s day, and they couldn’t get a foothold in the game.
In time added on, the icing was put on the cake. The lively Oli was brought down by Steve King in the box, and Tudors captain for the day Herd stepped up and chipped the penalty home, as cool as you like.
Hemel were clear and deserved winners at the Aspect Arena, while it was a bad day at the office for Concord Rangers.