Hemel Hempstead Town 2 Dartford 3
Vanarama National League South
Saturday, November 20th 2021 – match report by Allan Mitchell
Tyrique Hyde came back to haunt Hemel, scoring a brace after returning to Dartford after a loan spell at The Tudors, and that proved to be the difference between the sides in a closely fought encounter.
After being unchanged for three games, the Tudors had to shuffle the pack with a couple of injuries, a suspension, and losing the returning loanee. Almost inevitably, Hyde gave Dartford the lead after ten minutes. Nick Hayes did well to block a Sonupe shot from close range, but the ball fell kindly for Hyde, who tucked it home.
Hemel, who are much improved under Mark Jones, then took the game to the league leaders and got a deserved equaliser on 20 minutes when Alfie Cerulli tucked the ball home after good work by Jacques Maghoma.
Hemel then dominated the rest of the half with Craig Fasanmade and Maghoma giving the Darts back three some problems opting to run at the tall defenders rather than try and take them on in an aerial battle.
The Tudors almost took the lead after a great run and cross by Dan Wishart, Cerulli tried an audacious flick at the near post, but Darts keeper Dan Wilks stuck a foot out and deflected it wide.
Hemel made a quiet start to the second period, and Dartford gained control of the game; Nick Hayes saved superbly from Luke Wanadio, tipping his powerful shot over the bar.
Hayes did well again just before the hour mark parrying an Azeez effort, but the ball was only half-cleared. As Wanadio crossed it back in, it appeared to hit Wishart’s hand. Despite the fact that it was close to his body, the referee wasted no time in pointing to the spot, which seemed very harsh as the defender could do little about it considering that it was fired at him from such close range.
Despite Hemel’s protests, the decision stood and up stepped Azeez, who drove it home, just past the unlucky Hayes' outstretched fingertips.
This seemed to deflate the Tudors somewhat, and Dartford now looked in control of the game at this point. However, manager Mark Jones had few options on the bench to give his side some fresh legs with only four players named, one of which being Samir Carruthers who wasn’t fully match fit after a long layoff with a hamstring injury.
The visitors went further ahead on 77 mins when Wanadio put through Hyde, and he outpaced a defender before tucking the ball past Hayes to give them a much-needed cushion.
Hemel never gave up; however, with Carruthers being tentatively introduced to the fray, his passing started causing a few problems, and with the clock ticking down, he sent the inform Cerulli through into the box, and he slotted the ball past the advancing Wilks to reduce the arrears, but there was little time for Hemel to further trouble the keeper and shortly after the final whistle blew leaving the Darts with a much-needed win after a poor recent run of results.
It was a frustrating afternoon for the Tudors, and after several games unchanged, it ended up being a case of being “down to the bare bones” for Mark Jones’ squad, and that was probably the difference on the day. All in all, still a decent performance, and on another day, they might have got a deserved point from the match, but it’s still a sign of the continued improvement shown recently.
One Hemel fan remarked afterwards that “they didn’t capitulate after going a goal behind and that he was enjoying coming to games again”.
Next up is the FA Trophy on Saturday at Vauxhall Road against Stourbridge, and Jones said he would be looking to get one or two more players in to add to his squad before then.
Hemel: Hayes 8, Scott-Morriss 7, (Hinds 78 – 7), Wishart 7, Stephens 7, (Carruthers 78 – 7), Nembhard 7, Kpekawa 7, Maghoma 8, (Castiglione 70 – 7), Mantom 7, Cerulli 8, Fasanmade 7 Subs not used: Ethan Holt.
Match rating 4/5 Attendance 674.