Hemel Town boss Dean Brennan’s patched-up side picked up their second excellent win in a row against a promotion rival when they beat Chelmsford City 3-1 last night (Tuesday) in front of more than 500 fans at Vauxhall Road.
It was much closer than the scoreline suggests but, regardless, another three excellent points have now pushed the Tudors up to third in the National League South table.
It was a contentious penalty award that set the Tudors on their way in the 25th minute when City’s Mark Haines appeared to have won a race for the ball with Hemel forward Will Hoskins, just poking it back to his keeper before the striker could get to it. As both players collided, Hoskins fell and much to the delight of the Hemel fans, the referee decided he’d been fouled and awarded spot kick.
It looked very harsh and Chelmsford’s players and coaching staff all vented their anger at the decision, with City manager Rod Stringer eventually being sent to the stands after he had words with the linesman, who he felt was in a good position to see the challenge.
Stringer said afterwards that it was a game-changing decision and the ‘worst he had seen in all the years he had been in football’.
None of this worried Hemel skipper Jordan Parkes and he duly stepped up after the long delay to tuck the ball away and give the home side the lead. It was the captain’s 12th goal of the season in all competitions.
City were working hard closing down and relying on the counter-attack but their front two, especially Chris Dickson, kept getting caught offside, which was credit to a well-marshalled Tudors’ defence.
Hemel kept their patience and almost went 2-0 up after 35 minutes when James Kaloczi met Kyle Connolly’s looping cross with his head, but the ball spun high into the air and was pushed over the bar by City keeper Nathan Gartside for a corner.
The Tudors did finally go 2-0 up from the resulting corner with Parkes netting his second of the game. Parkes has developed a way of curling the ball right under the post recently and he did just that again for the second time in as many home games. The ball squeezed in before Gartside could reach it at the near post. The City keeper complained that he had been blocked but the goal stood.
Parkes then saw a free-kick punched away by the now-rattled Gartside and from this corner Parkes curled another difficult ball in that was headed away from under the bar by Michael Spillane.
Spillane had City’s best chance of the half just before the break when he got on the end of a well-worked free-kick but he put his shot narrowly wide of Laurie Walker’s post.
Defender Lloyd Doyley had to be replaced at the break as Hemel’s injury list continues to mount, but it did not deter them and they should have gone 3-0 up early in the second period when great work by Kaloczi set up Spencer McCall, who was on his weaker foot but he still managed to bring out a full-length save from Gartside.
Walker then made a decent stop when Michael West broke clear down the right but City were creating little and Hemel looked comfortable despite losing
Hoskins to a shoulder injury and the returning Matt Saunders to a muscle strain.
The visitors had a couple of chances from corners but Mark Haines and Ahthony Church both headed high and wide when well-placed.
The goal that sealed the win came in the 84th minute when the excellent Kaloczi twisted and turned his way into the box before cutting the ball back to McCall who looked up and bent the ball past Gartside into the roof of the net for his second goal in as many games and fifth of the campaign.
There was still time for some late drama as Thomas Hitchcock was sent off for City after what appeared to be an elbow on Ismail Yakubu.
And to add to Hemel’s injury woes, keeper Walker had to be led off after he received a nasty cut on his arm when saving at the feet of Giles.
It meant Kyle Connolly had to go in goal as the Tudors had used up all their subs and he was powerless to stop a pile driver of a shot from Scott Davies in the 94th minute which gave City a consolation goal.
In the end, it was an excellent result for Brennan’s men, who continue to defy the odds despite only having 12 fully-fit players to choose from before this clash.
It’ll be a case of ‘who is available’ for the next game at Vauxhall Road against lowly Poole Town this Saturday but Hemel fans will be sure that whoever plays, they will still be in there fighting for points at the weekend.
Hemel line-up: Laurie Walker, Lloyd Doyley (Alex Osborn), Joe Howe, Jordan Parkes (captain), Kyle Connolly, Ismail Yakubu, Matt Saunders (Ebby Nelson-Addy), Scott Shulton, Will Hoskins (Matt Spring), James Kaloczi, Spencer McCall. Subs not used: David Moyo and Danny Boness.
Mitch’s man of the match: James Kaloczi.