WEALDSTONE v HHTFC - 27/04/19
By Dean Chance
See below match report by Allan Mitchell
Wealdstone 2 Hemel Hempstead Town 1
The Tudors final league game ended in a defeat but the travelling fans were pleased with the efforts of the players, who responded well after the disappointing display at home to Weston super Mare.
Stones keeper Jonathan North has been something of a nemesis for Hemel in recent years and he did his best to keep his side in the Play Off hunt again with another excellent display, especially in the first half when the Tudors really took the game to the home side. He saved superbly from, Jason Williams on two occasions in the first 15 minutes and the Tudor Army, who have a great relationship with the keeper, were left wondering if he was going to frustrate them again.
He was finally beaten on 36 minutes when Williams, who was having his best game in a Hemel shirt, evaded Stones off side trap and deftly chipped the on rushing keeper, the ball dropping just under the bar to give the visitors a deserved lead. Just before this, an already depleted squad was further hampered when Kyle Connolly had to limp off with what looked like a nasty knee injury.
Academy prospect Sydney Ibie came on to replace him and Joe Deeney had to swap things around to accommodate the young forward.
Things got even worse minutes after the goal when the other Hemel full back, Jacques Kpohomouh had to leave the field after some lengthy treatment to a head injury. Both Connolly and Kpohomouh had been causing Stones problems with some excellent wing back play and it was a major blow to lose both players before half time. Deeney introduced Rob Sinclair and had to adjust his side again, as he is also a forward. Kavan Cotter went back to right back and Joe Howe tucked in on the left.
Mark Randall was then a victim of a pretty poor high tackle just before the break, Stones midfielder Jake Sheppard was very fortunate to only receive a yellow card for the challenge and with just two academy players left on the bench, Tudors fans were fearing the worse. Thankfully, Randall was able to continue and the half time whistle brought an end to the first period.
Wealdstone were sent out early for the second half after clearly getting a bit of a dressing down for their efforts in the first forty five minutes and they were quickly out of the blocks but it poor play by Hemel just two minutes after the re-start that gifted them their equaliser. They conceded possession on the half way line and Stones took full advantage, turning defence into attack, a quick through ball sent Freddie Grant clear, his first shot was deflected onto the post by Tom Hamblin but the ball fell kindly back to Grant who smashed it past Walker, much to the joy of the relieved home fans who could now start to believe they could actually sneak into the play offs.
Hemel regrouped after this and looked to have weathered the storm somewhat but on 56 minutes, Sheppard, who had escaped the red card in the first half, really rubbed salt into the wounds by superbly chipping the ball into the top corner after he had been given too much time and space on the edge of the box. It was harsh on Hemel but Stones were pressing hard and it looked as though they were going to be the more likely to score.
Sheppard further upset Hemel with another late challenge that Randall took exception to, after lots of handbags, Randall went into the book with the Stones player escaping further punishment.
The home fans were now in full voice as other results were going their way and apart from a couple of half chances, Hemel never really troubled North again. The home side saw the game out in the end and as the final whistle blew word got round that they had done enough to sneak into the final play off spot with four other results incredibly going their way.
In the end Joe Deeney said he was much happier with the performance, especially after last week but reflected on a depleted squad that was further hampered by the two injuries before half time. He was disappointed with the first goal, losing possession when we were in a promising position but that seems to have been the story of the last few months.
He sent his best wishes to Bobby Wilkinson and his players and said they have every chance of progressing.
As for Hemel, he said “It’s going to be a very busy six weeks, getting in the players they have identified to get us where we want to be. It’s going to be very exciting times especially if we retain the players we want to keep and bring in those long term targets. There have been lots disappointing moments in the last few months and has been very challenging at times but we look forward to next season. Thanks for everyone’s support and let’s hope we can end with a trophy on Monday at Hitch Town in the Herts Charity Cup Final”
Line up : Hemel 1: Laurie Walker 2: Jacques Kpohomouh ( Rob Sinclair) 3: Kyle Connolly (Sydney Ibie) 4: Jordan Parkes © 5: Tom Hamblin 6: Oliver Swain 7: Kavan Cotter 8: Mark Randall 9: Jason Williams 10: Kieran Monlouis 11: Joe Hawk. Subs not used : Magloire Muyembe, Jake Baker, Danny Boness.
Attendance 823 Tudors Man of the Match : Oliver Swain.