Hemel Hempstead Town eventually made a man advantage count when they scored two goals in a six-minute span late in the second-half to beat ten-man Chelmsford City 2-0 in front of a bumper crowd at Vauxhall Road this afternoon (Saturday).
Visitors City were a player down for nearly 60 minutes of this National League South clash after Adrian Cascaval was given his marching orders in the 41st minute after appearing to elbow Tudors’ forward Alex Wall.
It looked like the hosts might squander their numerical advantage but Chelmsford legs finally tired in the final quarter-of-an hour as Hemel pounced.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 75th minute when Luke Howell played a fine through ball to Sam Ashford, who slotted past City keeper Carl Pentney for the striker’s fourth goal in ten outings.
And just five minutes’ later the hosts ensured it would not be too nervy finish for the Tudor Army when player/assistant manager Jack Midson netted from the penalty spot for his first goal of the season, sending Pentney the wrong way, after Ashford had been fouled in the box by City substitute Shaun Jeffers.
Before the two late goals, it looked like it might be a frustrating afternoon for Hemel as they toiled in search of a breakthrough.
Nash hit the bar with a classy chip in the 49th minute and Daniel Phillips went close with a powerful long-range effort that just cleared the bar in the 51st minute.
Tudors’ skipper Connor Essam also headed wide from a corner when well-placed.
For City, Chris Whelpdale’s searching cross in the 70th minute went all the way through the hosts’ defence and almost found Tom Wraight at the back post but he couldn’t get to the ball in time.
In the first-half, a floated cross into the visitors’ box from Nash forced Mickey Spillane into making a last-ditch header to put the ball behind for a corner and on the quarter-hour the Tudors had to clear the ball off their own line after a Wraight header went close.
Playing some good football, the visitors, who were in 12th place in the table prior to the game, went close again when Cascaval floated a free-kick into the box and Wraight forced Hemel keeper Danny Boness into a smart save to deny an opening goal.
But the red card changed the dynamic of the game as Hemel began to take control and finally got their reward through Ashford’s smart finish.
The win for boss Sammy Moore’s side moved the Tudors back into third place in the standings after ten games.
It was a good bounceback victory following the disappointing 2-0 reverse at Slough Town on Tuesday night and the Tudors’ camp was in a positive frame of mind after re-grouping and having a quality training session on Thursday evening.
For the first time this season Moore was able to start Wall, the National League South leading scorer last term, while full-back Tosan Popo was back in the line-up following a seven-game absence through injury and Mitch Dickenson was re-called for his first start since August 6.
Tyrone Sterling was unavailable today due to international duty for Grenada, full-back Craig Braham-Barrett missed his first start of the season due to a tight hamstring and keeper Sam Beasant was out for his second game in a row due to a bothersome ankle injury.
Unfortunately for Wall, his action was limited to just 46 minutes when he was forced to exit early in the second period after sustaining an injury in a clash with Whelpdale in the box at the far post when Hemel were in the midst of a promising move.
Next up for the Tudors is a trip next Saturday, September 14, to league newcomers Tonbridge Angels, who are in 19th place and lost 2-1 today away at mid-table Chippenham Town.
It will be the first time since early August that the Tudors have a full week’s rest to prepare for a game and Moore will be hoping this additional time might ease some of the squad’s injury woes.
Hemel’s line-up v Chelmsford: Danny Boness, Tosan Popo (Munashe Sundire, 78 mins), Jake Howells, Dan Phillips (Isaac Galliford, 60 mins), Connor Essam (captain), Mitch Dickenson, Liam Nash, Luke Howell, Alex Wall (Ricardo German, 48 mins), Jack Midson, Sam Ashford. Sub not used: Jacques Kpohomouh.