Hemel Hempstead Town 0 Braintree Town 3 (Holness 10, 15 and 56)
Vanarama National League South Fixture: 21/08/2021
Match Report by Allan Mitchell
Braintree Town came away with all three points, and it was hat-trick hero Luke Holness who ended up being the difference between the sides. The Tudors had their chances, but they just could not cope with Holness, who provided a clinical exhibition of finishing.
Hemel Manager Lee Bircham must feel he has walked under several ladders and broken a mirror or two as he looks at his injury list and his side’s misfortune in front of goal.
Still, he is also aware that the Tudors simply cannot keep giving soft goals away, which was again very much the case in this game.
Braintree took the lead after just 10 minutes, and there was, almost inevitably, a touch of luck in the goal, Holness dispossessing Cole Kpekawa on the edge of the box before clipping a shot past Nick Hayes in the Tudors goal, the shot taking a deflection which helped the ball loop over the keeper.
The second came on 15 minutes when some slack defending allowed a Braintree player time and space to whip a cross in from the right, and with Hemel’s backline on their heels, it was met by Holness again, who stepped in front of James Kaloczi and tucked the ball home at the near post.
Hemel’s best chance of the half came when James Dobson was put clear by JJ Lacey, but with just the keeper to beat, he put his shot wide of the post.
Bircham made two changes at the break; one was enforced as Zach Robinson had limped off just before half-time to join the ever-growing injury list, and the second was to take off Mike Frieter for the returning Stephen Gleeson.
Gleeson’s experience seemed to settle the home side down, and they created some decent chances in the second half, but they found Braintree goalminder, Preston Edwards, in good form.
After some decent possession, Hemel threatened more and looked like they could get back into the game, but it was Braintree who put it to bed after some more indifferent defending when a low cross from the right was tucked home by Holness for his hat-trick, just before the hour mark.
The home side huffed and puffed but still couldn’t find a way past Edwards, who saved from Lacey twice and the best one of all, a point-blank block from Kaoczi late on.
So not the best start for the Tudors with seven goals conceded in the opening two games but with several experienced players yet to return, Bircham is confident that things improve in the coming weeks.
It’s been a frustrating time with the Tudors boss saying in his programme notes that he has never known anything like it, but they are working on getting things right both on and off the pitch.
Hemel: Hayes, Scott-Morriss (c) Williams, Ajayi, Kpekawa, Kaloczi, Marsh-Brown, Frieter (Gleeson) Robinson (Cerulli ) Lacey, Dobson (Dalling ) Subs not used: Ochieng, Patching.