Hemel Town made it three wins in a row and have now netted 11 goals in their past trio of league games after beating Bognor Regis 3-1 at Vauxhall Road tonight (Tuesday).
The recent injury bug at the club meant Tudors’ boss Dean Brennan had to make changes to the side that beat Braintree 4-3 on Saturday. Most notably, Hemel were without both of their central defensive linchpins, the excellent Tom Hamblin and Ismail Yakubu, who both went off injured at the weekend.
Such was the lack of fresh bodies that Hemel had one less substitute to call on from the bench. New signing Charlie Hayford, a former Spurs academy player, made the bench and saw debut action at the end.
There were some good early chances for Hemel with the recently-energised Rowan Liburd going on a long, mazy dribble to set up a teammate but they fired wide.
Liburd again went on the attack moments later and released his own effort on goal but it drifted wide.
Hemel took the lead in the 25th minute through their superb skipper Jordan Parkes. The Tudors were awarded a free-kick on the edge of Bognor’s area and Parkes stepped up to send the ball into the top corner with an unstoppable blast.
Liburd continued to press on after the goal and set up Joe Howe with a low cross but Hemel couldn’t take advantage in the ensuing messy goalmouth scramble.
Yet another effort from Liburd not long afterwards saw his long-range low, driven shot spilled by Bognor keeper Dan Lincoln but the netminder was able to beat Parkes to the drop-ins.
Justin Amaluzor then had a go as Hemel players were seemingly queuing up for a shot on goal - the Barnet loanee’s low, powerful effort flied just the wrong side of the far post.
But disaster struck in the 35th minute when Bognor were awarded a penalty. An attacker made a lengthy run into Hemel’s box and he was brought down. Jimmy Muitt made no mistake from the spot, hammering the ball into the top corner.
The injury monster struck yet again in the 37th minute when Amaluzor had to be replaced after receiving some lengthy treatment.
The more than capable Ben Greenhalgh came on to replace the forward and almost immediately he had a legitimate penalty claim after being felled by his marker following a run into the area, but the referee waved it away.
Laurie Walker made two good saves before the break but it remained 1-1 at half-time as Hemel were left to rue their catalogue of missed opportunities.
The busy Liburd had another chance early on after the restart when he spinned past a defender before firing over after being set up by Kyle Connolly from the left.
Liburd was finally rewarded for his endeavour in the 55th minute with a goal after some neat build-up play from Hemel. Charlie Sheringham set up Liburd whose first touch beat the advancing keeper, leaving him just a tap-in to put Hemel ahead 2-1.
A good double-save from the Bognor keeper Lincoln then kept out shots from Parkes and Sheringham, although the second effort would likely have been ruled out for offside.
Hearts were then in mouths after a let-off for Hemel when Bognor failed to take advantage of their best scoring opportunity of the half, a close-range shot which was scuffed.
Callum Driver then went close with a hard, low shot which looked goalbound but keeper Lincoln pulled off a brilliant diving stop.
The Tudors’ fans’ nerves were finally settled in the 80th minute when Sheringham put the coup de grace on the night. Both Sheringham and Phil Walsh raised to meet the ball from a corner, and Sheri claimed the final touch that sent the ball over the line for 3-1.
The victory pushed Hemel into eighth place in the National League South table and just three points adrift of league-leaders Dartford.
Brennan will no doubt be delighted with the win and it leaves his side on 19 points after 11 games - just one point shy of his target for this stage of the season, a fact he revealed when speaking with the Gazette earlier this afternoon.
Next up for the Tudors is some respite from league action when they host Wingate and Finchley in the second qualifying round of the FA Cup on Saturday.
Hemel: Laurie Walker, Joe Howe, Kyle Connolly, Jordan Parkes (captain), Phil Walsh, Callum Driver, Alex Osborn (Charlie Hayford, 87), Taylor Miles, Rowan Liburd (Matt Hall, 83), Charlie Sheringham, Justin Amuluzor (Ben Greenhalgh, 37). Subs not used: Danny Bonness.
Referee: Ben Cooke.
Man of the match: Kyle Connolly.