New boss Jones guides Hemel to first league win of the season

There was relief all-round as Hemel Hempstead Town picked up their victory in the National League South this season

Monday, 27th September 2021, 7:42 am
Updated Monday, 27th September 2021, 7:44 am
Hemel Hempstead Town manager Mark Jones

New manager Mark Jones was able to celebrate his first win after taking charge of Hemel Hempstead Town as they clinched a 3-2 success at fellow strugglers Billericay Town in the National League South on Saturday, writes Allan Mitchell.

It seems to have been a long time since the traveling Tudor Army returned from a game with smiles on their faces and they certainly made the most of this result as they celebrated with the players after the final whistle.

It’s far too early in the season to describe this as a ‘six-pointer’ but it was a massive game and Jones made three changes to his starting line-up after Tuesday’s disappointing FA Cup defeat to Ware.

He welcomed back striker Freddie Hinds along with Cambridge loanee Liam Bennett and he gave a start to another loan signing, Tyrique Hyde who arrived from Dartford.

Hemel’s Sam Mantom saw an early shot well saved but they did take the lead when Chris Paul did well through the centre of the park before playing the ball out wide.

It was crossed in by Bennett and there was a bit of a scramble before it finally found its way to Hinds who tucked it home from close range.

This seemed to wake Billericay from their slumbers and they had a decent chance to equalise when Joe Felix drove the ball wide when he really should have hit the target.

Aaron Simpson was denied by home goalkeeper Bailey Rose and the hosts missed a glorious chance when Darren Foxley was off target with an unchallenged header.

As the interval approached, Billericay equalised and it was Bagasan Graham who was the provider, breaking down the left and planting the ball onto ex-Tudor Rowan Liburd’s head and he made no mistake burying it past Nick Hayes.

The second period was surprisingly quiet to start with but it was Hemel who took the game by the scruff of the neck when they forced a couple of corners in quick succession.

The first, on 52 minutes, was met by an unmarked James Kaloczi, who timed his run superbly, and he headed into the corner to give the Tudors the lead.

Just four minutes later some neat interplay between JJ Lacey and Bennett saw the young Cambridge loanee break into the box and get a shot away, Vose just managing to push it away.

From the resulting corner, Curruthers drove it into the near post where Lacey brilliantly flicked his header past the Ricay keeper to give Hemel a two-goal cushion.

The home side got back into the game on 75 minutes when a cross from the right wasn’t dealt with and the ball dropped kindly to Michael Chambers who tucked it home to give them some hope.

However it was Hemel who could have put the game to bed just a minute later when Alfie Cerulli turned superbly in the box before curling a shot past Vose, only to see it crash off the post.

Moments later JJ found himself in space near the penalty spot, he drove his shot powerfully past the keeper but hit the underside of the bar and down, the Tudors fans behind the goal and the striker were convinced it was over the line but no goal was given.

The game was again very much end-to-end with both sides contributing to an entertaining game.

Cerulli and Marsh-Brown had chances whilst Ricay also had two good opportunities but on both occasions Nick Hayes saved well.

In the very last minute, the luck that had eluded Hemel all season finally went their way when Liburd missed another free header just yards out, glancing the ball wide and the referee blew his whistle, much to the relief of everyone in red.

The victory moved the Tudors up to 19th place and they now have a break following their exit from the FA Cup with the next game being against Jones’ former club Oxford City at Vauxhall Road on October 9.

Hemel: Nick Hayes, Liam Bennett, Aaron Simpson, Chris Paul, James Kaloczi, Cole Kpekawa, Samir Curruthers (Dom Morgan-Griffiths) Sam Mantom © Freddie Hinds (Alfie Cerulli) JJ Lacey, Tyrique Hyde (Ky Marsh-Brown) Subs not used: Josh Castiglione, James Dobson.

Tudors man of the match: Aaron Simpson.