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MATCH REPORT | Eastleigh 2-1 Hemel Hempstead Town

Match report by Allan Mitchell

The Tudors last pre-season game came against Vanarama National League Premier side Eastleigh, who were always going to prove to be tough opposition but Manager Lee Bircham wouldn’t have wanted it any other way and he was very pleased with the overall performance on the day. It was a couple of errors that contributed to the final result but Bircham reflected on the mistakes and said that it was all part and parcel of the game, especially pre-season.

During the first period The Spitfires had the majority of the possession but Hemel never looked overawed by their Premier Division opponents and created a couple of decent chances themselves. As the half drew to a close it looked as though the teams would go into the break all square but a deflected clearance fell kindly for Ben Howse who shook off the attention of Perkins and lifted the ball over Boness to open the scoring as the clock ticked down. It was tough on the Tudors but a lesson learned about keeping focused for the whole of the 45 minutes. There was just time for the referee to blow for the restart before he called a halt to proceedings.

Hemel actually started the brighter of the sides in the second half and JJ Lacey did superbly, chesting a through ball down before firing it across the goal, only to see it cleared away for a corner.

Eastleigh then stepped up a gear and Danny Boness was called into action in three times in a matter of minutes when he saved smartly down by his post and then, from the corner he reacted point blank to a header before punching the ball away to safety. The Spitfires eventually added to their lead on 55 minutes and it was an unfortunate goal from Hemel’s perspective. With the home pushing up, Boness saw an opportunity to create a quick counter attack, his throw looked as though it was going to send Reggie Young on his way but Sam Partington read the situation and managed to get to the ball before Young and he wasted no time in sending Sam Smart on his way down the right. He crossed to an unmarked Howse who rose and powered his header home.

Sadik Balarabe almost got the Tudors straight back into the game with a curling effort that was just tipped over and JJ Lacey also forced a corner when McDonnel saved his effort, as Hemel kept pressing forward. They were rewarded for their efforts when another Lacey corner was met by Ryan Kinnane who looked to have got too much on his header at the back post but the ball looped over a defender who was standing on the line and just dipped under the bar to open his account for the club.

A Lacey cross come shot almost caught McDonnel out in the Eastleigh goal, the keeper somewhat relieved to see it drop just over the bar as Hemel pushed for an equaliser but that was about it as far as chances went, The Spitfires saw the game out for the win but an excellent performance from the visitors who can take some confidence into next Saturdays FA Cup game away at AFC Dunstable.

Speaking to Tudors Media Man, Jack Cunningham after the game it was apparent that the pleasing thing for both Bircham and his assistant Steve Bateman was that, once again, all the changes that they made, didn’t appear to weaken the side and this is something he has taken from this difficult period. It’s been a strange pre-season, with games getting cancelled and then re-scheduled and the management duo have been very pleased with the attitude and performance of all the players who have been involved.

Hemel: Danny Boness, Jacques Kpohomouh, Kyle Ajayi, Jake Howells ©, Ryan Kinnane, Teddy Perkins, JJ Lacey, Ade Cole, Matt Bateman, Sadik Balarabe, Reggie Young

Subs: Snedker, Jefford, Evans, Webb, Worman, Owens, Vine, Cook

Tudors Man of the Match; Ryan Kinnane


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