Vanarama National League South
8th November 2022 Match report by Mitch Hemel never like to do things the easy way and this match reflected that after the Tudors dominated proceedings but only came away with a narrow victory. It was all Hemel in the opening exchanges and Simon Grant saved an early shot from Brooklyn Ilunga after Josh Castiglione’s initial cross had been blocked. Dara Dada tried a chip over the Crusaders keeper as he came out to close him down moments later, the ball landing on the roof of the net. On ten minutes, Josh Lelan was clearly wrestled to the floor by a Hungerford defender but the referee waved away the appeals and it seemed only a matter of time before Hemel would go in front. After dominating the first half against Havant in the previous fixture there was always that worry that they wouldn’t turn their dominance into goals but those fears were allayed when Dara Dada got onto the end of a superb cross from Castiglione at the back post to head home on 14 minutes.
Goal One- Cross from Josh C. to Dara D.
The Tudors continued to press with Josh Castiglione, Dada and Dom Morgan-Griffiths all combining well, especially down Hungerford’s right hand side. They added a deserved second goal on 31 minutes after a brilliant ten pass attacking play that went from one side of the pitch to the other. Morgan-Griffiths once again got clear down the right before pulling the ball back to Castiglione who tucked it away via the inside of the post.
Goal Two- Josh C. Get in There!!!
After all this pressure, Hungerford had yet to register a shot on target but they were awarded a very dubious free kick on the right side of the penalty box. The danger looked to have been cleared out to the left but the ball came back in and Daniel Roberts arrived at the near post to head home to reduce the deficit in the 42nd minute. Hemel seem to have a habit of conceding goals just before the break and it got worse at the start of the second half when Ryan Jones curled a corner in from the right that eluded everyone and ended up sneaking in at the back post.
The Tudors faithful could barely believe what had happened but their side responded well with Harris O’Connor hitting the side netting just a minute later after arriving unmarked from the left. Hungerford almost took the lead themselves when an error at the back saw ex Tudor, Jake Evans race clear, he looked odds on to score but was forced slightly wide and he didn’t really get enough on his shot and Craig King saved on the stretch. Hungerford were looking more of a threat now, buoyed by the two goals and they forced a number of corners that were delivered right into the mix, under the crossbar. Hemel struggled to deal with them but survived and then took the lead again in the 68th minute. Another sweeping move saw the ball fed up to Brooklyn Ilunga who had tormented his marker all game, he drove past him at pace and looked to have been pulled back but he continued into the box and cut inside before getting scythed down, leaving the referee no alternative but to give the penalty.
There were some dubious tactics by Hungerford to delay the kick and it was a full four minutes before Dra Dada was able to step up and take it, he smashed against the underside of the crossbar and it thankfully bounced over the line much to the relief and delight of the Hemel fans behind the goal.
Whilst Hungerford continued to threaten at corners, Hemel looked more like the side who would add to their tally. The unfortunate Luke Holness saw one shot crash off the post before Grant made a superb one handed save to deny him as the clock ticked down. In the end, a deserved win for the Tudors but much too close for comfort for the Tudors Army and manager Mark Jones, who was grateful for the points but relieved and impressed by the way his side responded to having been pegged back at 2-2.
Hemel: Craig King, Harris O’Connor, Jernade Meade, Josh Lelan, Kory Roberts, Godfrey Poku, Dom Morgan-Griffiths, Dara Dada (Bayley Brown 76) Josh Castiglione, Luke Holness (Ethan Holt 90) Brooklyn Ilunga. Subs not used: Ogo Obi, Andrew Eletheriou, Florent Bojai. Attendance 288
Man of the Match: Josh Castiglione.