Havant and Waterlooville 0 Hemel Hempstead Town 0
Vanarama National League South: Tuesday 28th December 2021
Match report by Mitch
In the end, a fair result in a tight game down on the south coast, The Hawks came into the game off the back of an eight-goal thrashing by promotion rivals Dorking, whilst Hemel’s game vs St Albans had been called off due to Covid issues within the Saints camp.
There was always going to be a reaction from Havant after the heavy defeat, and whilst the Tudors have a good record at the Draper Tools Community Stadium, it was always going to be a tough fixture.
The first half was something of a dour affair, but the Tudors had the better of the chances with impressive debutant Alfie Williams, Josh Castiglione, and Sam Mantom all having shots at goal.
The Hawks suffered a blow when their giant centre half Paul Rooney had to leave the field suffering from a concussion after an earlier clash of heads.
Sub Benny Read looked about half Rooney’s height, so there was a change in their formation.
Hemel’s best chance of the game fell to skipper Mantom very early in the second half after some excellent work down the right by Alfie Cerulli.
He drove the ball across the box where Aaron Simpson cleverly stepped over the ball. It arrived at Mantom’s feet where he had time to take a touch but opted to shoot the first time, and he drilled it straight at keeper Will Mannion who held it comfortably.
Hemel then had a scare of their own when a free-kick on the left was curled in across the face of goal, but no Havant player was able to get a touch.
Right at the death sub, former Hawks player Chris Paul almost completed the perfect ending to the script when the excellent Williams set him up on the edge of the box.
He lined up his shot, but Mannion was just able to get a hand on it, and he pushed it over the bar and from the resulting corner, Cole Kpekawa will feel he could have won the game when he rose unchallenged at the back post but once again Mannion was there to save on the line.
Shortly after, referee Marc Whaley called an end to proceedings, and Hemel’s unbeaten away run under Mark Jones continues.
Jones felt after the game that his side just lacked a little something in their oppositions half of the field but was happy with the point and a clean sheet.
On the subject of the clean sheet, the whole backline deserves a special mention as they kept a physical Havant side at bay.
They were helped by some excellent work by Josh Castiglione, who popped up everywhere when needed and Alfie Williams, who made an excellent debut and visibly grew in confidence, as did Charlee Hughes upfront, another debutant who stepped up as the game progressed.
Hemel: Craig King, Gus Scott-Morriss, Dan Wishart (Aaron Simpson), Dominic Morgan-Griffiths, (Chris Paul), Jack Westbrook, Cole Kpekawa, Alfie Williams, Sam Mantom ©, Alfie Cerulli, (Alex Addai), Charlee Hughes, Josh Castiglione. Subs not used: Jeanmal Prosper, Nick Hayes.
Tudors Man of the Match: Josh Castiglione but special mentions to Craig King, Cole Kpekawa, Jack Westbrook, Gus Scott-Morriss and Aaron Simpson (who replaced Dan Wishart) at the back and to Alfie Willams in midfield, a confident debut from the youngster that earned him a place in the Vanarama National League South 'Team of the Week.’