After nine league games without a win, Hemel Hempstead Town have now secured back-to-back 3-2 wins after beating Eastbourne Borough on Saturday at Vauxhall Road.
In a repeat of the previous home game over East Thurrock United last weekend, Hemel managed to grab all three points although the visitors can again consider themselves unlucky to have come away with nothing to show for their efforts.
It was the first time Hemel had won twice in a row since mid-December and the first league double since November 11.
Eastbourne could have been 2-0 up before the Tudors had created anything of note. A looping header from Stefan Ljubcic dropped onto the bar after just six minutes, then Charlie Walker headed wide when it looked easier to score.
Hemel went in front after 15 minutes very much against the run of play when Herschel Sanchez Watt and Kavan Cotter combined down the right, Cotter found Daniel Rowe in space and he made no mistake with his first-time shot, driving it across the face of the goal and into the corner of the net.
After going 1-0 behind, Borough still looked dangerous but their finishing continued to let them down.
Tudors’ skipper Jordan Parkes almost showed them how to do it when he deflected a cross towards his own goal, fortunately his keeper Laurie Walker was alive to the situation and was able to push the ball away.
Eastbourne, who were just one place below the Tudors in the table going into the game, continued to create chances and were finally rewarded right on the cusp of half-time when a corner was headed home by an unmarked Walker, who wasn’t going to miss a second time.
Tudors’ manager Joe Deeney was unhappy with the decision to award a free-kick that led to the corner, but was also disappointed with the amount of room Walker was given. Both goals conceded last week were the result of poor marking from set-pieces and it has been an issue for some weeks.
With the second period starting very much like the first, it was Eastbourne who continued to push and they deservedly went 2-1 ahead on 57 minutes when Walker was sent clear of Hemel’s back-line, who had stepped up, and he raced through to slot home his second of the game.
The lead was short-lived, however, as Hemel quickly got on to the front foot and forced a corner. Eastbourne didn’t deal with it and in an attempted clearance the ball hit one of their own defenders, fell to striker Arel Amu’s feet and he gratefully poked the loose ball past stopper Mark Smith for his third goal of the campaign.
It was anyone’s guess as to how the game would then finish, with both sides creating chances and it took a moment of genius from Hemel’s recently-crowned record goal scorer Parkes to settle the contest on 88 minutes. The referee gave the Tudors a free-kick just on the edge of the box when the ball struck a defender’s raised arm. Up stepped the captain with one of his trademark free-kicks that looped over the wall and into the top corner to snatch the points.
That’s a pair of 3-2 home wins on the bounce and Deeney reflected afterwards that they have played better than they did in both games and lost this season.
He felt the first-half in particular was very poor, almost like a pre-season friendly, and he let the players know how he felt at half-time.
Deeney was pleased with the response after the break and is looking forward to the next outing this Saturday, April 6, which is on the road at his old club Oxford City, who he says he still has a lot of time for and remains friends with many of the staff there.
It should be another tight encounter, with both sides sitting in midtable with the same number of points.
Hemel remain in 14th place in the National League South table for the fourth week in a row after this victory, while Oxford are in 13th due to a superior goal difference.
The reverse fixture in September was a 2-1 win for Hemel thanks to goals from the now departed duo of James Kaloczi and Phil Roberts.
Hemel line-up v Eastbourne: Laurie Walker, Kavan Cotter, Kyle Connolly, Jordan Parkes (captain), Frankie Musonda, Jacques Kpohomouh, Kieran Monlouis (Jason Williams), Mark Randall (Joe Howe), Arel Amu (Jack Snelus), Herschel Sanchez Watt, Daniel Rowe. Subs not used: Tom Hamblin, Danny Boness.
Hemel sponsors’ man of the match: Jordan Parkes.