Walker the penalty hero as ten-man Hemel hang on for a point on the road

Hemel Town's Laurie Walker.
Hemel Town's Laurie Walker.

Tudors’ keeper Laurie Walker proved to be the saviour after his penalty stop earned Hemel Town a point at Bath City on Saturday.

The last time these two sides met at Twerton Park was in the FA Cup qualifying rounds on September 30 with Bath coming out the victors 3-0.

But a fine penalty save this time around meant 10-man Hemel were able to grind out a goalless draw and extend their unbeaten league streak to seven games.

The pivotal moment came just past the hour mark when the Tudors’ Matt Spring blocked Nick McCootie’s shot on the goalline with his arm.

He received a straight red card but City failed to 
convert the spot-kick 
when Nat Jarvis’s effort was kept out by Hemel’s stellar netminder Laurie Walker.

Walker has been in magnificent form all season and his stop here earned his side a point.

His Hemel team-mates regrouped to make his save worthwhile, comfortably keeping City at bay despite being a man down and twice coming close to grabbing all three points.

The first-half saw little in the way of excitement as both sides struggled to keep possession.

City twice had two-on-one breaks but McCootie and then Jarvis held onto the ball too long and the danger passed.

They also looked to have won a penalty late in the half when Andy Watkins appeared to be tripped in the box but the referee waved away the appeals and booked Watkins for a dive.

Hemel also spurned a couple of good chances but it took a confrontation between Walker and McCootie to finally bring the game to life on 59 minutes.

The striker chased what looked to be a lost cause to 
win a corner and in the 
aftermath Walker was perhaps lucky to only receive a yellow card for pushing his head near to McCootie’s face.

This meant he was still on the pitch to deny Jarvis from 12 yards moments later.

And he then kept out Matt Richards’ 25-yard free-kick with a top-class save 
that looked destined for the top corner of the goal.

In between, Bath stopper Luke Southwood produced an equally good save to turn Alex Osborn’s shot over the bar.

He also blocked Will Hoskins’ 84th minute close-range effort as the closing stages moved largely into the Hemel half.

However, the closest City came to scoring was a diving header from Watkins that flew inches the wrong side of the post.

The point sees Hemel remain in eighth place in the National League South table and just outside the play-off places but with a game in hand over four sides above them in the standings.

This Saturday presents a good opportunity to earn all three points when they travel to bottom-of-the-table Whitehawk before hosting sixth-placed Chelmsford City next Tuesday, December 12.

Hemel v Bath: Laurie Walker, Callum Driver, Tom Day, Jordan Parkes, Kyle Connolly, Ismail Yakubu, Alex Osborn, Matt Spring, David Moyo, James Kaloczi, Spencer McCall. Bench: Will Hoskins, Matthew Campbell-Mhlope, Ebby Nelson-Addy, Nathaniel Fowler, Danny Boness.