Tudors 2-0 winners at Hungerford
A stunning moment of skill followed up by a clinical coup de grace five minutes later powered Hemel Town to a 2-0 victory at Hungerford Town's Bulpit Lane this afternoon (Saturday).
After a goalless first period, it was a spectacular overhead kick into the top corner by Tudors’ skipper Jordan Parkes on the hour mark which broke the deadline and gave the visitors the edge.
Charlie Sheringham then doubled the lead five minutes later after he nodded home a free-kick.
It was the striker’s first goal of the season and he will be glad to get that monkey off his back as the talented forward has been uncharacteristically profligate in the opening two games of the season, especially with his head.
Indeed,a free header was squandered in the first-half by England legend Terry’s son, although it ended up being a moot point as he was in an offside position.
After the second goal, Tudors’ boss Dean Brennan smartly tinkered with the tactics to make the side tougher to break down, bringing on experienced defensive player Phil Walsh for Alex Osborn and freshening the legs along the back-line by introducing Kyle Connoly for Callum Driver.
It appeared to have the exact deadening effect that Brennan desired, as the home side failed to create any gilt-edge chances thereafter with the only real trouble coming from a series of corners and free-kicks.
Hemel keeper Laurie Walker did make a quality stop from Jon Boardman in the 85th minute but much of the threat came via speculative shots from distance with more than a few going high and wide.
The Tudors saw the game out by keeping the ball near the Hungerford corner flag and earned a time-sapping corner before referee Robert Massey-Ellis blew the final whistle
The victory sees Hemel climb from 12th to sixth place in the National League South table and it was the perfect tonic to the disappointment in midweek when Town went down 0-1 at Concord Rangers.
Hemel are only the third team to beat Hungerford at Bulpit Lane in the last 23 league games there.
Next up for the Tudors is a home league match on Tuesday (7.45pm) when Hampton & Richmond Borough come to Vauxhall Road.
The Londoners drew today when they entertained Eastbourne Borough and are lying in eighth place in the standings. As of last week, Hemel were on the cusp of signing one of the Hampton & Richmond Borough players, winger Jerome Federico.
Brennan made one change to the side which started the first two matches of the season, dropping summer signing Taylor Miles to the bench in favour of Alex Osborn.
Hungerford’s Luke Williams called Hemel keeper Laurie Walker into action as early as the first minute, with his strike going straight into Walker’s hands.
The hosts’ left-back Paul Stonehouse was able to get forward a couple of times in the early going and provided two crosses but no-one got on the end of them. In the ninth minute Williams laid a ball off for Louis Soares on the edge of the box and his strike only just went wide of the Hemel post.
Moments later, Hungerford’s Stephane Ngamvoulou crossed from the left and Stefan Brown got to it but turned it wide before kicking the stand in frustration.
The visitors finally managed to get a foothold in the game on the quarter-hour, after they won a corner but Hungerford were able to clear their lines.
Four minutes later, the home side’s Rhys Tyler tried an audacious effort from out wide but the shot went high and wide.
After pressuring the Hungerford goal through another corner, Hemel’s midfield harried Stonehouse to win back the ball and a promising move looked to be developing but Boardman made a superb last-ditch challenge to deny the Tudors.
On the half-hour Hemel had another minor chance when Hungerford keeper Lewis Ward tried to claim a cross and dropped it, but he was able to gather it a second time round at the feet of a Hemel striker.
The end-to-end action continued a minute later when Soares shanked a shot wide of the right Hemel post.
Tudors’ striker Sheringham’s recent profligacy with his noggin continued in the 34th minute when he edged a free header wide, although he was judged to be in an offside position anyway.
Ngamvoulou was perhaps unlucky not to give Hungerford the lead just three minutes later when he struck a shot over the bar from inside the area.
Ben Greenhalgh then tested Ward in The Comrades’ goal but the netminder was able to keep hold of the ball down to his left.
Another Hemel corner led to nothing shortly before the whistle went for halt-time.
Hungerford Town come into today’s clash after a decent start to their campaign, a goalless draw last Saturday against Dartford followed by a 2-0 win in midweek over Weston Super Mare,
The Crusaders, always drilled and well-organised by boss Bobby Wilkinson, finished in sixth place in the National League South standings last season which could have been good enough for a playoff spot had the FA not intervened due to a stadium irregularity.
Most pleasing for last year’s surprise package was that they had kept two clean sheets in as many games and the Tudors knew they would be taking on a tough and physical side at Bulpit Lane, a ground where they only lost two league games in all of 2016/17.
Hemel arrived in Berkshire with a 50/50 record, having won the season opener 3-0 against Whitehawk last Saturday at Vauxhall Road followed by a loss 0-1 at Concord Rangers on Tuesday night.
Hemel: Laurie Walker, Callum Driver (Kyle Connolly, 81), Joe Howe, Jordan Parkes (captain), Tom Hamblin, Ismail Yakubu, James Koloczi, Alex Osborn (Phil Walsh, 71), Sam Hatton, Charlie Sheringham and Ben Greenhalgh (Johnny McNamara, 86). Substitutes: Taylor Miles and Charlie May.