Match Report by Allan Mitchell
Its three games unbeaten for Lee Bircham’s Tudors after another gritty performance from his improving side. The Hemel boss will be wishing the non “Elite” levels remain in lockdown for a few more weeks at least as no less than five of the current squad are dual registration players and will be heading back to their parent clubs just as soon as they start playing again. All these players have made an excellent impact in their time with us, none more than the trio of Gus Scott-Morriss, Liam McDevitt and Nathan Cooper across the back line.
This game saw all of those lads making a contribution and it’ll leave the management team a bit of a headache when the time comes. To be fair all 14 players involved deserve credit for this performance and the win pushes Hemel into 9th spot in the table, although it has to be said we have played more games than most of the teams around us. The first half was dominated by the visitors for the most part and although Tonbridge did look very dangerous from set pieces, Dean Snedker was barely troubled in the Hemel goal.
Angels keeper Jon Henly looked a bit suspect on crosses as Hemel pushed forward, creating a number of chances but as has been the case a few times this season they were hit by a sucker punch on 17 minutes. A free kick from the right just dropped into a crowd of players, a couple of Tudor defenders tried to clear it but it was blocked and fell kindly to Tom Parkinson who toe poked it home to give Angels the lead.
The lead was short lived however as Hemel forced yet another corner, there was a bit of a scramble and Bernard Christie was brought down as he attempted to get a shot away. The referee pointed to the spot and with Matty Bateman still side-lined, up stepped JJ Lacey and he confidently sent the keeper the wrong way to open his account for the Tudors.
Lacey was having his best game so far for Hemel and he was a constant threat with his crosses and passing. After a corner for Tonbridge was cleared to the young forward, he was able to race clear to the half way line, as the home side chased back Thomas Beere took it upon himself to take care of the situation by scything JJ down as he looked to be on his way. It couldn’t really be described as a goal scoring opportunity as he still had 50 yards to run but the challenge was a dangerous one and left Lacey in a heap on the ground. The referee Aji Ajibola had little option but give Beere a straight red.
Hemel then tried to capitalise on their advantage and really pressed forward creating more chances. Lacey saw his shot just tipped away for a corner and Chris Paul saw his cross deflected wide as Christie waited to pounce.Right on half time the game changed again as Luke Pennell rather clumsily fouled Da Costa out on the right and with the Tonbridge players baying for blood the referee pulled out a yellow card, Pennells second of the game and he was off, levelling things up again.
The second half saw Jake Howells drop to left back with as the Tudors reshuffled. Tonbridge opted to go to three at the back and it seemed to have worked as they dominated the early part of the second half, without really troubling Snedker. He was almost caught out by a cheeky near post free kick that Da Costa drove in but he reacted well and pushed it out for a corner.
After being a the back foot for the opening minutes of the second half, Hemel burst into life and almost took the lead when a slick passing move ended up with Reggie Young striking the foot of the post with Henly well beaten.
Sub Omar Roloe came on for Lacey on the hour mark and almost scored with one of his first touches, shooting just wide and another sub Ajaye saw his effort well saved as the Tudors stepped up a gear. A good free kick to the back post was headed across the face of the six yard box but there wasn’t a Hemel player close enough to get a touch but they were finally rewarded for their efforts when another good passing move involving Chris Paul and Omar Roloe ended up with Roloe running to the edge of the box unchallenged, with time and space he picked his spot drilling it past Henly to put the visitors in front on 82 minutes.
Any hopes of just seeing the game out were dashed when Snedker had to close Da Costa down as he headed towards goal, blocking his effort superbly, he then got up and stopped Javaun Splatt’s follow up shot before the ball was cleared away. Both Splatt and Snedker were left on the ground. Splatt got up after some lengthy treatment but it was clear Snedker was struggling and couldn’t continue. Hemel did have a keeper on the bench but they had used all their substitutions so skipper Jake Howells, who was celebrating his 500th competitive game volunteered to take the jersey.
It was certainly one he would remember and with the referee announcing 7 minutes injury time it was going to be a nervy finish to the match. Hemel’s backline were not going to be breached as they re-grouped and kept Tonbridge at bay, surviving a few corners but protecting Jake who ended up not having to save a shot and even managed to get a goal kick to the half way line.
In the end a thoroughly deserved three points and the team can go into Wednesday’s tough encounter down at Havant with some confidence.
The latest news regarding Snedker and his injury is that hopefully it wasn’t quite as bad as first feared, so fingers crossed he will be back in action sooner rather than later. Hemel are lucky to have a more than able keeper, Danny Boness to step in if need be.
Hemel: 1: Dean Snedker 2: Gus Scott-Morriss 3: Luke Pennell 4: Jake Howells © 5: Liam McDevitt 6: Nathan Cooper 7: Jake Evans (12: Sam Manton) 8: Chris Paul 9: Bernard Christie 10: Jonathan Lacey (14: Omar Roloe) 11: Reggie Young (16: Kyle Ajaye) Subs not used: 15: Ryan Kinnane, 17: Danny Boness (gk).
Tudors Man of the Match: Gus Scott-Morriss – 10/10 performance