Hemel Town found Eastbourne Borough’s 3G rubber-granules pitch to be a much happier hunting ground today (Saturday) after they ran out 2-0 winners and got a cracking goal from debutant Scotty Shulton.
The Tudors lost 3-0 at Priory Lane and also slipped to a 4-0 defeat to the same opponents at Vauxhall Road last term so Town boss Dean Brennan was expecting a tough test today on the south coast.
But Hemel put together a text-book away performance to register their fifth clean sheet of the season [in all competitions] and earn their first away victory in the National League South since September 5.
Borough’s fans seemed to feel harshly treated by the result, if their Twitter account is anything to go by, but a fourth league goal of the season from striker Charlie Sheringham in the eighth minute and a belter from outside the box by new man Shults in first-half added time were just what the Tudors needed to register all three points.
Shulton, who was recently released by table-toppers Braintree Town, blasted a great strike from about 35 yards to open his account for the Tudors.
The 27-year-old was not the only debutant in today’s starting XI as other recent signing Spencer McCall was also named in the line-up.
Sheringham’s early goal saw the striker dispatch the ball inside the far post, not long after Barnet loanee Justin Amaluzor had flashed a shot wide for Hemel.
Borough skipper Sergio Torres had a number of efforts in the first period, firing wide on several occasions and missing a header when well-placed.
Charlie Harris also went close with a header for the hosts and they suffered a blow on 17 minutes when Gary Charman had to go off injured.
Tudors’ inspired keeper Laurie Walker made a good save from a pin-point Torres header on 23 minutes but the visitors had their own ‘nearly’ moment two minutes later when they whacked the crossbar from a free-kick.
Walker was called into action again on the half-hour mark when he stretched to save a Will Hendon cross from a tight angle.
A Matt Drage free-kick for Borough and then a Lloyd Dawes cross both managed to elude everyone in the box as the home side pushed for the equaliser but Hemel’s defensive work was solid, allowing Shulton to land the decisive howitzer in first-half added time.
Brennan said in the week that this would be a stern test of wills and the Tudors had to dig deep and stay disciplined in the second-half in the face of much pressure.
Borough’s Jamie Taylor shot wide on 51 minutes and Walker showed his mettle yet again seven minutes later to parry a decent Dawes shot.
Eastbourne substitute Ian Simpemba hit the crossbar with a headed effort on 72 minutes as the home faithful started to believe it was going to be one of those days.
There were cries from the Borough fans for a card of some description when Shulton was apparently seen to ‘stamp’ on the thigh of Torres on 74 minutes, but the referee Robert Whitton didn’t see anything untoward.
Borough’s Harley Willard had a shot blocked from close range with quarter-of-an-hour to go as Eastbourne threw everything at Hemel.
And Dawes hit the post from barely two yards out in the 93rd minute as Hemel remained steadfast for their hard-earned clean sheet.
The victory sees Hemel move up one place in the league table, to eighth.
Next up they will host 20th-placed Oxford City a week today (Saturday, October 21), who won 1-0 today in the FA Cup fourth qualifying round.
Hemel: Laurie Walker, Callum Driver, Tom Day, Jordan Parkes (c), Phil Walsh, Ismail Yakubu, James Kaloczi (David Moyo, 59), Scotty Shulton, Justin Amaluzor (Matt Spring, 56), Charlie Sheringham, Spencer McCall (Lloyd Doyley, 75). Suns not used: Rowan Liburd, Danny Boness.