Home joy at last for Hemel Hempstead Town

Hemel Hempstead Town secured their first home win of the seasonHemel Hempstead Town secured their first home win of the season
Hemel Hempstead Town secured their first home win of the season
The Tudors finally broke their duck at Vauxhall Road this season in the Vanarama National League South

Hemel Hempstead Town celebrated their first home win in 340 days and it was an unbelievable 679 days since they last did it in front of their own fans due to the various lockdowns, writes Allan Mitchell.

The Tudors deserved the three points as they controlled the 3-1 success over Bath City for long periods, although the visitors had some decent opportunities themselves despite being on the back foot for much of the game.

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After a bright start, Hemel created several early opportunities and, just five minutes in, Josh Castiglione did well to intercept a clearance and he drove into the box at pace but was unable to keep his shot down and it flew high and wide.

Cole Kpekawa had two identical headers tipped over the bar by City keeper Ryan Clarke from successive corners before Alex Fletcher missed a rare chance for Bath, firing wide when he really should have hit the target.

Hemel took the lead on 38 minutes when a superb run and pass from Castiglione down the left was driven home powerfully by Gus Scott-Morriss.

Somewhat against the run of play, City equalised a couple of minutes later when they created an almost carbon copy goal.

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They broke clear down the right and the ball was played to the back post where Cody Cooke was waiting unmarked and he drove the ball home to level the scores.

It seemed like another case of déjà vu for Hemel, conceding after looking in total control and the Tudors fans went in for their half-time refreshment almost accepting that ‘this is just what happens at home’

The second half was much the same as the first with Hemel pressing but City looking lively on the counter.

Castiglione thought he had restored the lead on 49 minutes when a free-kick from Samir Curruthers was blocked close to the goal, there was a bit of a skirmish and the ball was fired home but the linesman waved his flag for an infringement.

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Bath’s Fletcher had a couple of chances in quick succession but both times he was thwarted by Craig King, who saved his near post flick and then turned a curling shot from the edge of the box round the post.

Hemel continued to push forward after this and just past the hour mark, Charlee Hughes produced a bit of magic, evading several tackles before firing home from a tight angle to put the home side back in front, making it three in three games for the new Hemel No. 9.

And with City now offering very little, the Tudors added a third, much to the relief of their fans, when Alex Addai curled the ball in from 25 yards out, via a slight deflection, to put the game to bed.

The joy on the supporter’s faces was evident after the game and although it was an obvious cliché, manager Mark Jones was more than delighted to get that ‘monkey off his side’s back’ as the Hemel players celebrated in front of the fans at the end.

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Jones will be hoping that they can now make a habit of picking up points at home and their form at Vauxhall Road matches the excellent performances shown in away games.

Hemel: King, Scott-Morriss, Nembhard, Morgan-Griffiths, Westbrook, Kpekawa, Carruthers (Prosper 81), Paul (Gardiner-Smith 65), Cerulli (Addai 65), Hughes, Castiglione. Subs not used: Wishart, Hayes.

Tudors man-of-the-match: Josh Castiglione.

Attendance: 553.