Wind-assisted Monlouis goal earns a point for the Tudors
Blustery conditions certainly made life difficult for both Hemel Hempstead Town and Gloucester City on Saturday, but the Tudors had those same gusty gales to thank for their goal which earned a share of the spoils on the day.
Loanee midfielder Kieran Monlouis netted his first goal for the Tudors in the 77th minute to wipe out Fabien Robert’s 44th-minute opener at the Jubilee Stadium in Evesham.
Hemel, in 14th place in the National League South and winless in eight league jaunts going into the game, were facing a City side in the midst of a tight relegation fight, just a point and a place clear of the dropzone.
Gloucester boss Mike Cook was left frustrated after his side failed to clinch all three points and admitted the windy weather played a big part in the match.
The first-half started in frantic fashion, with City winning a corner in the second minute. Robert connected well with a Luke Russe low cross, but Hemel stopper Laurie Walker made a fine save to deny the striker from giving Gloucester a rousing start.
The hosts thought that they had broken the deadlock midway through the period after Joe Hanks hit the ball across the Tudors’ penalty box, but Jake Jackson was unable to get a touch on the ball.
Hemel had their own chance when Monluis curled a shot in the wind towards the top right-hand corner from the left of the area, but City net man William Henry made a smart save to deny the visitors.
An error in the Hemel defence almost led to a farcical goal when the wind and several deflections put the ball dangerously close to Walker’s goal before a final deflection cannoned off a Hemel defender and just went wide to avoid an own goal.
With the clock ticking down to half-time, an initial strike from Jackson was saved by Walker, however, Robert was on-hand to slot the ball into the back of the net to give Gloucester the lead.
Hemel had the benefit of the wind in the second period as they searched for a leveller.
Neither side grasped the upper-hand, with the conditions getting even worse, although Hemel had some decent efforts when substitute Scott Shulton and Kyle Connolly both went close from distance.
Striker Jason Williams, making his first start for Hemel this season, was almost put through around the 70th-minute mark but City skipper Sam Avery stopped a certain goal when the defender prevented the forward from getting through on goal.
The Tudors finally levelled on 77 minutes when captain Jordan Parkes put Monlouis in space out wide to the left of the area and Monlouis hit a cross-cum-shot which floated over everybody, including the outstretched arms of City keeper Henry, before landing in the far corner of the net.
Robert was denied a winner in the 85th minute when his strike was well-saved by Walker and City survived a late scare of their own at the death, when a scramble inside the box almost resulted in Hemel snatching the win.
In the end, a draw was probably a fair result, with both teams toiling hard in the horrible conditions.
Hemel remain in 14th place in the league standings after this point and next face another relegation-threatened outfit when bottom-but-one team East Thurrock United are the visitors at Vauxhall Road this Saturday.
The reverse fixture in mid-November resulted in a 2-1 away win for the Tudors, when Rob Sinclair netted a brace.
Hemel line-up v Gloucester City: Laurie Walker, Jacques Kpohomouh (Scotty Shulton, 62 mins), Kyle Connolly, Jordan Parkes (captain), Darren Ward, Tom Hamblin, Kavan Cotter (Joe Howe, 84 mins), Kieran Monlouis, Jason Williams, Arel Amu, Herschel Sanchez Watt. Subs not used: Jack Snelus, Arthur Read, Danny Boness.