Tougher tests for the Tudors are the workouts they require
Hemel Town's ambition of adding another National League Premier scalp to their superb pre-season record were dashed in the first three minutes at Vauxhall Road on Monday night.
A week after dispatching last year’s FA Cup darling Sutton United in their own back yard, the Tudors were back on home soil to host Boreham Wood.
The visitors, who finished in 11th last year, raced out of the traps and caught Hemel completely off-guard before the crowd had even settled. Many late-comers were somewhat surprised to see the 0-1 score as they settled in.
The Wood took the lead with a superb 25-yard strike from Angelo Balama, who curled the ball past keeper Laurie Walker as the Hemel defence backed off.
It was soon 2-0, while the first goal was still being announced. Hemel gave the ball away straight from the kick-off and allowed Bradley Ash to race down the left before crossing to an unmarked Kaine Smith at the back post who was left with an easy tap in.
The shell-shocked Tudors almost got back into the game after five minutes when Ismail Yakubu got on the end of a cross but he could only direct it straight at the keeper.
To their credit the hosts slowly got a foothold in the game but found themselves with an impossible task as once again, poor defending allowed Kieran Murtagh time and space to pick his spot from the edge of the area to make it 3-0 on 25 minutes.
Boss Dean Brennan said that this would be a tough week and his side were certainly being given a hard time by quality opposition but it was the type of game they needed and they didn’t let their heads drop, slowly but surely pressing their Premier Division opponents back.
As the half-time break approached, Hemel got a goal their efforts deserved when an inch-perfect Ben Greenhalgh free-kick was met by James Kaloczi who powered his header home.
Just on half-time Matty Spring had a chance to reduce the deficit even further but his shot from outside the box flew just wide of keeper Grant Smith’s post.
The second period was a more even affair but with Hemel pushing forward The Wood always looked dangerous on the counter and the excellent Ash finished off a sweeping move that saw fullback Smith head the ball back and Ash slot past a helpless Walker to make it 4-1.
That was pretty much game over but there were still chances at both ends and Johnny McNamara got a consolation for Hemel, when he arrived at the back post to finish at the second attempt, after good work by Greenhalgh and captain for the night Kyle Connolly.
This signalled several changes for both sides, with Hemel bringing on three trailists along with Ed Asafu-Adjaye and regular skipper Jordan Parkes who is still working on his match fitness.
One of the trialists had two chances in a minute, seeing a header saved and from the resulting corner, another header just flicked over the bar.
Walker made a couple of excellent saves to keep the score down and at the end a decent crowd showed their appreciation to both sides for an entertaining game.
It was just the sort of workout Brennan and coach Stuart Maynard would have wanted with another tough game against League Two side Cambridge United to come tonight (Wednesday) at Vauxhall Road (7.45pm).
Some of the squad who were missing on Monday should be available tonight.
After this, the team are off to Dublin for a friendly in the Irish capital.
Tudors : Laurie Walker, Callum Driver, Kyle Connolly (c), James Kaloczi, Tom Hamblin, Ismail Yakubu, Jonathan McNamara, Taylor Miles, Matt Spring, Charlie Sherringham, Ben Grennhalgh.
Subs: Ed Asafu-Adjaye, Jordan Parkes, Charlie May and four trialists.