It was National League north opposition for the second time in a week for the Tudors and this time it was regular play off contenders Brackley. It promised to be a real test but it was a challenge they accepted and it ended up with them gaining their first win under the new management team of Bircham and Bateman, after a draw and three defeats in the previous warm up games.
Brackley, who finished third in their division last season, have kept most of their squad for the new campaign and they fully expect to be amongst the contenders again. They looked very dangerous in the opening part of the game and Danny Boness had to be at his best very early on when Harry Flowers was given too much room in the box from a corner, the Brackley centre half powered a free header goalwards but Boness managed to get a hand to it, tipping it superbly over the bar.
The Hemel keeper was called into action again when he was quickly off his line to thwart Ellis Myles after the resulting corner wasn’t cleared.Hemel started to get forward after this early onslaught and Matty Bateman did well to turn his marker before firing in a shot but Lewis saved well.
Boness was proving to be a major factor in the scoreline remaining at 0 – 0 when he made a brilliant double save, first tipping a Ndlovu shot onto the post before picking himself up and punching the ball away before an on rushing forward could get a touch.
It seemed only a matter of time before Brackley would open the scoring and it came in the 25th minute, when some poor defending on the left allowed fullback Ellis Myles drive forward unchallenged and he picked out Ndlovu with a pin point cross and he buried past the helpless Boness to open the scoring on 25 minutes. This prompted Bircham to make a substitution, bringing on Kyle Ajayi for Herson Alves to shore up the left hand side.
He almost made an instant impact when he got on the end of a good move involving Lacey and Bateman, he arrived at the far post but his shot was well saved. Ajaye was now causing problems for Brackley and he set up Lacey who couldn’t get enough power on his shot and once again Lewis saved easily. There was still time for Boness to make another excellent save, this time tipping a long range shot against the post before turning round and grabbing the ball before it crossed the line.
HALF TIME: Brackley 1 Tudors 0
The second period saw the home side control most of the possession for the first 15 minutes and it looked like it was going to be a struggle for Hemel as they just couldn't get hold of the ball. However, with Brackley making little in the way of chances despite all their possession, the Tudors started to gain in confidence and just after the hour mark, Ajaye made another great run down the left before driving the ball across the face of the goal, just out of the reach of the onrushing Bateman. Shortly after this, Lacey received the ball in the middle of the park and sent a superb ball through to Jake Evans and he wasted no time in driving the ball home from just outside the box.
Brackley had a couple of half chances but each time Boness was there to thwart them, saving well and despite defending for periods Hemel always looked dangerous on the counter and it was a quick breakaway that led to the second goal. A long through ball was well collected by Webb and he looked to have broken clear of Flowers, the Brackley defender tried to get back but only succeeded in bringing Webb down, resulting in a free kick on the edge of the box and a red card for the unfortunate Flowers.
Jake Evans stepped up and curled the free kick around the wall, the substitute keeper saved well but the ball looped up to the back post where Matty Bateman bravely dived in to force the ball home under some pressure from a defender.
The remaining minutes saw Brackley pour forward but a superb rear guard action from Hemel’s back line, including a makeshift left back in AJayi, saw the Tudors home.
Hemel: 1: Danny Boness 2:Jacques Kpohomouh 3:Ryan Sellars 4:Jake Howells © 5:Ben Jefford 6:Teddy Perkins 7:Ben Worman 8:Jacob Cook 9:Matt Bateman 10:JJ Lacey 11:Herson Alves.
Subs: Kinnane, Snedker, Vine, Evans, Ajaye, Webb.
Tudors man of the Match: Danny Boness.
POST MATCH SHOW
With Dan Finill, Jack Devonport & Jack Cunningham | Interviews and post match comments
Interviews: Lee Bircham, Kyle Ajayi & Danny Boness