Match Report by Allan Mitchell
Hemel's season finally got underway at Creasey Park and they would have been fully aware of how difficult FA Cup matches can be as they have been on the end of some upsets in recent seasons, as was the case last year when faced Beaconsfield. The Tudors arrived in good form and their opponents were rooted to the foot of the Isthmian League with only one win to their name, but as is often the case in Cup football they left with their tails between their legs, losing 1 – 0 to a very late goal after completely dominating the game.
This game was also a potential “Banana Skin” as it was Hemel’s first competitive game after what seems like a never ending pre-season. The OD’s, despite playing at a level which was two divisions below their National League opponents, were going to be fully match fit with six league and cup games under their belts and they were looking to reach the 3rd Qualifying Round for the first time in their history, so it was never going to be that easy.
AFC started very brightly, eager to let the visitors know they weren’t going to let them settle into any sort of rhythm. Despite struggling to get their passing game going early on it was Hemel who had the first chance when they won a corner which Matt Bateman met but he could only put his header wide. Dunstable had a half chance themselves just after this with the lively Taishan Griffith managing to get past Kpohomouh down the left before trying his luck from a tight angle, the ball ending up in the side netting.
From then on it was all Hemel as they stepped up through the gears, Reggie Young was a constant threat with his close control and he set up Ade Cole after some good work down the right, Coles shot was well saved. The resulting corner was met by Ryan Kinnane and his header was blocked on the line. Bateman and JJ Lacey then combined well, with Lacey seeing his shot saved well by Green. KPog then had two chances, both from corners, the first header was saved and the second he put over the bar.
Hemel finally broke the deadlock on 38 minutes when Jacob Cook picked out Jake Evans and he made no mistake with his powerful header. It was no less than Hemel deserved and they went in at the break a goal to the good, but they would have felt it should have been more.
The second half was somewhat scrappy to start with but the Tudors looked in full control although there was always the fear that they would pay for their missed chances and sure enough, just before the hour mark Dunstable drew level, with their first shot on target. They were given a slightly debatable freekick just near the halfway line, it was launched forward to Bernard Christie who controlled the ball on the edge of the box and outmuscled his marker before turning and driving across the face of the goal into the bottom corner, despite Boness’s desperate attempt to keep it out.
Somewhat shellshocked Hemel re-grouped and pushed forward again, shortly after Dunstable had leveled the scores they went back in front. Reggie Young, who was having an excellent game received the ball on the edge of the box, he wasted no time in driving into the area and was flattened by two Dunstable defenders, leaving the referee with an easy decision to award a spot kick. Up stepped Matty Bateman and he drove the penalty home, despite Dan Green getting a hand onto it to restore Hemel’s advantage.
Danny Webb had a couple of chances to increase the lead but he headed over the bar for the first effort and hit the side netting from a tight angle for the second, after more good work from Young. There was still time for Jake Evans to curl a freekick around the wall, only to see it saved by Green and there was a late rally from Dunstable, but Boness wasn’t really threatened as the clock ticked down. In the end a good result against a decent Dunstable side who almost caused an upset but on the balance of play Hemel fully deserved the win, even if it was somewhat closer than they would have wished.
Lee Bircham was pleased with the performance and will be hoping that the chances his side continue to create will be taken as they kick off the National League South campaign on Tuesday evening with a difficult first game away against Slough Town.
Tudors 1: Danny Boness 2:Jacques Kpohomouh, 3:Jacob Cook, 4: Jake Howells © 5: Ryan Kinnane, 6:Teddy Perkins, 7:Jake Evans, 8:Ade Cole (16:Danny Webb) 9:Matt Bateman (14:Rowen Vine) 10:Jonathan Lacey (15:Reece Beckles-Richards) 11:Reggie Young. Subs not used: 12:Luke Howell, 17:Dean Snedker, 18:Tyrese Owen 19:David Awabuine.
TUDOR TALK - EXTRA TIME - Post match show with interviews with Matt Bateman and Jake Evans