Walker: “Tudors can still win the title”

Hemel Town's Scott Shulton.
Hemel Town's Scott Shulton.

Tudors’ goalkeeper Laurie Walker still thinks his side has the talent to win the National League South this season as the campaign winds towards its tense conclusion.

It’s now the business end of an exceptionally tight league season with just 11 games to go and Hemel Town lying in the seventh and final playoff position.

Hemel Town's number one Laurie Walker collected his 12th clean sheet of the season against Havant on Saturday. (Picture by Terry Rickeard

Hemel Town's number one Laurie Walker collected his 12th clean sheet of the season against Havant on Saturday. (Picture by Terry Rickeard

Just nine points separate Hampton & Richmond in second place and Weston-super-Mare in 11th – and only six points are between all the six teams currently occupying the playoff positions.

The Tudors are poised to either make a late run to solidify their promotion hopes or to fade out of the playoff picture altogether.

Matters are very much in their own hands, with six of the remaining fixtures at home and half-a-dozen are crunch encounters against sides around them in the top 11. They include Bath City (9th), Truro (10th) and an away trip against table-toppers Dartford on March 17.

The heated run-in starts in earnest this Saturday when Hemel travel to eighth-placed Welling United who are just a point and a place adrift of the Tudors, but the Londoners have a game in hand.

Walker, now in his second spell with Hemel, has been in fantastic form this season and last month inked a contract extension which will see him remain at Vauxhall Road until May 2020.

The 28-year-old netminder sat down with the Gazette’s Hemel Town match reporter Allan Mitchell at the weekend to discuss the season so far and to rate the Tudors’ chances.

He said: “I think as a back unit this season we have it bang on and [boss] Dean [Brennan], Stuart [Maynard, assistant manager] and Dimitri [Kharine, goalkeeping coach] have done a super job getting the right players in.

“Going forward I wouldn’t say we are weak, because we do have a very strong attacking threat, I just don’t feel we have seen it at its full potential yet,

“I think it would be unfair to blame the forwards for us not being top, I just put that down to us failing to win games that on paper we should have won.

“But I’m confident we are still in with a chance of nicking the title, I honestly believe that.

“Dean and Stuart are a very solid management team and we know what they expect from us, and the one thing I can say is they are honest and will say what needs to be said in a professional manner.

“All dressing rooms can get very heated, it’s just the nature of football and it’s never personal.”

The Tudors’ number one had to deal with a cut to his arm after colliding with a Chelmsford City player in late-January but he confirmed that this has now healed.

“The arm has thankfully healed up well. At one stage it was pretty concerning but that was squashed pretty quickly and I should have no long-term after effects hopefully,” he said.

Walker is very much happy with the decision he made in returning to Hemel, adding: “Coming back to Hemel was one of the best decisions I’ve made.

“It’s a great club and from previous experience I loved it, so it was a no-brainier when the chance came up to return.”