Tudors hit by early goals as they fall to defeat
Allan Mitchell reports on Hemel Hempstead Town's home loss to Oxford City
It’s a bit tough being a Hemel Hempstead Town fan in the Vanarama National League South right now, writes Allan Mitchell.
Just when it looked like the Tudors had turned the corner after a couple of decent results, high-flying Oxford City came to town and effectively won the game in the first six minutes.
As has often been the case this season and in front of another healthy attendance, Hemel could have taken the lead early on when Samir Curruthers broke into the box but was forced wide, he managed to get a shot in which beat the keeper but it crashed into the side netting.
The home fans had barely time to catch their breath when City went in front, directly from the goal kick.
The ball found its way to Joe Iaciofano after a Hemel defender failed to get his head on the ball. Iaciofano evaded some poor challenges, danced into the box and tucked the ball away with just four minutes on the clock.
It got worse two minutes later when they doubled their lead through Iaciofano again, the Hemel backline allowing him too much time and space with the diminutive striker gratefully slotting home from close range after he had played a neat one-two down the right.
Oxford were now running the show, playing some excellent football and could have gone further ahead when Josh Ashby curled a shot onto the crossbar.
Hemel did regroup slightly but were glad to hear the half-time whistle and Tudors boss Mark Jones wasted no time in trying to address the problems by making two changes at the break with Jack Westbrook, who signed from Banbury United last week, and Gus Scott-Morriss coming on to tighten things up.
The home side had more of the ball in the second period and created a few chances, the best of which fell to centre back Cole Kpekawa who was causing the Oxford backline a few problems at set-pieces.
Freddie Hinds then managed to escape his marker on the hour mark but he couldn’t keep his shot down and it skimmed the crossbar.
A goal at that point would really have put Hemel back into the ascendancy but there was always that feeling that Oxford would score on one of their pacey counter attacks.
Then, as the clock ticked down, that’s exactly what happened when Hemel lost possession in midfield, with everyone pushing up the ball was fed quickly to sub Jacob Bancroft and he made no mistake, curling the ball past Hayes to put the game to bed in the 87th minute..
There was still time for Freddie Hinds to finally find the back of the net but the linesman had put his flag up so it was disallowed and then, to rub salt into the Tudors’ wounds, Oxford added a fourth in injury-time after another quick breakaway saw Bancroft set up Lewis Coyle who tucked home from close range.
Hemel: Nick Hayes, Liam Bennett (Scott-Morriss), Chris Paul, James Kaloczi (Westbrook), Cole Kpekawa, Samir Curruthers, Sam Mantom, Freddie Hinds, JJ Lacey, Ky Marsh-Brown (Tyrique Hyde). Unused Subs: Cerulli, Castiglione.
Tudors man of the match: Gus Scott-Morriss – always giving it 100 per cent even after coming off the bench.