Incredible resilience came to the fore as Hemel Town beat a good Braintree side 4-3 yesterday (Saturday) at Vauxhall Road.
If Tudors fans had any doubts about the character of their team they were answered in this performance that resulted in a win when it looked very unlikely after an hour’s play, with the visitors leading 2-1 and looking very much in control.
Hemel had to make two substitutions in the first half and another at half-time through injuries which made this result all the more remarkable.
Matty Spring had to leave the field with a knee injury after just 15 minutes, Taylor Miles coming on in his place.
It was Braintree who had the first chance in the third minute when Karl Oliyide cut inside and fired a shot away but it sailed high and wide.
Charlie Sheringham then set up Justin Amaluzer, back at Hemel on loan from Barnet. Amaluzer managed to get his shot on target but Braintree keeper nathan McDonald closed him down quickly and was able to block.
The dangerous Phil Roberts was causing problems for Hemel’s back four and he almost opened the scoring but his well-hit effort was well saved by Laurie Walker who managed to get himself in the way of the follow-up too, saving brilliantly at close range.
Hemel took the lead after 22 minutes when Sheringham headed home an excellent cross from man of the match Kyle Connolly, leaping well and giving McDonald no chance.
The lead was only short-lived as Braintree equalised just four minutes later through a Miles own goal, as he tried to clear the ball but it ended up flying past Walker.
The impressive Rowan Liburd, who appears to be getting somewhere near to full fitness, hit the outside of the post after skipper Jordan Parkes had sent him through. He was driven wide but still managed to get the ball past McDonald only to see it glance off the woodwork.
Braintree looked the more likely to score as the break approached with Walker saving well from Ben Wyatt and then Scott Sholton hammered a shot against the bar, the ball bouncing on the line and then up into the air. As Walker and Tom Hamblin combined to stop Roberts getting a touch, both players ended up in a heap, with Hamblin having to limp off with what looked like a nasty injury.
Hamblin has been superb this season so Tudors fans will be hoping it’s nothing too serious.
Sholton then gave Braintree a deserved lead after 41 minutes when he arrived unmarked on the left and drove his first-time shot past Walker.
There seemed little sign of a Tudors revival in the second half and with Ismail Yakubu also having to be replaced at the break the signs were not looking good as Braintree controlled the game without really causing any problems.
They were made to pay for not pressing home their advantage, when in the 57th minute a long punt down field wasn’t dealt with, keeper McDonald called for the ball but waited for it to arrive rather than dealing with it. Liburd reacted superbly and took it round the keeper before calmly tucking it into an empty net for 2-2.
Then came an incident that upset home supporters and players alike when Amazuler was cynically cut down by Sholton as he raced down the right. Amazuler had beaten the midfielder for pace and was set to race away when he was hit by a high two-footed lunge that left him on the floor.
The referee consulted his linesman who had an excellent view of the foul and with everyone expecting a red card the official produced just a yellow.
A certain amount of justice was done, however, with the resulting free kick being met by James Kaloczi on 63 minutes who headed home to give Hemel the 3-2 lead.
To cap an amazing ten minutes of play, Parkes then fired home on 66 minutes from the edge of the box via the post to give Hemel a two-goal cushion.
Braintree weren’t done though and Roberts pulled one back with 15 minutes to go but Hemel bravely held out for the win, though Tudors fans’ hearts were in their mouths when a cross-shot right at the death was superbly palmed away by Walker.
This second victory in a row pushed Hemel to ninth in the National League South table. Next up for the Tudors is another home fixture on Tuesday night when they host 16th-placed Bognor Regis Town, who lost 3-0 at Wealdstone yesterday.
Hemel: Laurie Walker, Kyle Connolly, Joe Howe, Jordan Parkes, Tom Hamblin (Phil Walsh), Ismail Yakubu (Alex Osborn), Matt Spring (Taylor Miles), Rowan Liburd, Charlie Sheringham, Justin Amaluzor.
Subs not used: Ben Greenhalgh, Danny Boness.
Braintree: Nathan McDonald, Jonathan Muleba, Ben Wyatt (Ricky Gabriel), Christian Frimpong, Marc Okoye, Scott Sholton, Luke Allen, Billy Crook, Phil Roberts, Karl Oliyide (Dernell Wyter), Tyler Campbell (Roman Michael-Percil),
Subs not used: Osa Obanwonyi, Alfred Mugabo.
Referee: Alex Blake