Hemel Hempstead 3 Oxford City 5
Vanarama National League South 19th January 2021
Match Report by Allan Mitchell
Hemel’s home woes continued as they succumbed to a strong Oxford City side who deserved the victory on the night, with both sides contributing to an entertaining match.
The game was played in wet and windy conditions throughout, but the football served up was excellent under the circumstances.
Oxford were looking to keep their play-off ambitions alive, but they were stunned in the first minute when the in-form Jonathan Lacey scored his fourth goal in five games, volleying home a Christie Cross to give the Tudors the perfect start.
The shock of going a goal down didn’t seem to impact City too much as they pressed and hurried Hemel throughout. If they had their shooting boots on they would have pegged the home side back, but all too often they wasted decent shooting opportunities, rarely troubling Danny Boness in the Tudors goal.
Hemel could have gone two up but Sam Mantom put his shot wide when well placed. They did extend their lead, somewhat against the run of play in the 37th minute when Ryan Sellers curled a superb free-kick into the top corner.
It looked like they would go in at the break two goals to the good, but right on half time Pablo Martinez received the ball on the edge of the area and had far too much time to pick his spot to pull the away side back into the match.
Manager Lee Bircham would have been very disappointed at the way his side conceded the goal with the clock ticking down.
The second half saw Hemel take the game to Oxford and with the wind at their backs they fired in some long-range efforts and they went 3-1 up on 49 minutes when Bernard Christie drilled home a volley from the left side of the box.
This knocked City back, and they struggled to get a foothold in the game, but two substitutions changed things for them. They started to play some good passing football at pace and Hemel were pushed onto the back foot.
They got back into the game on the hour mark. A corner from the left was only half-cleared to the edge of the box, and Reece Fleet was once again given too much time to pick his spot to reduce the arrears.
After this goal, the visitors really pressed forward, and it looked only a matter of time before they would equalise. They should have been given a penalty when Sellers appeared to trip substitute Bancroft in the box with the referee waving away the appeals.
Still, it was only a short reprieve as Bancroft got past Sellers and crossed to an unmarked Harvey Bradbury who was left with a tap in to level the scores.
It looked like there would be only one winner now as City’s tails were up and they took the lead just a couple of minutes later with an almost identical goal.
This time the attack came down the right with James Roberts leaving a defender in his wake before laying the ball across the face of the goal were Bradbury was able to slot home unchallenged from close range.
The Tudors huffed and puffed but didn’t cause City any real problems and as the final whistle approached Oxford rubbed salt into the home sides' wounds by adding a fifth goal.
Bancroft, who had made a huge impact after coming on, was sent clear through the middle, Boness managed to force him out wide, but he still had time to turn and drive the ball home from a tight angle to make it 5–3.
A disappointing night for The Tudors who looked at one stage to be heading for their first win on home soil, but in the end, they were beaten by an exciting Oxford side.
Lee will be hoping that he has Gus Scott-Morriss and Nathan Cooper available for the Tudors' next match, away at Chippenham Town on Saturday.
Line Up: Danny Boness, Jonathan Muleba, Ryan Sellers (Darnell Goather-Braithwaite 77) Jake Howells© (Kyle Ajayi 67) Ryan Kinnane, Liam McDevitt, Samir Carruthers (Chris Paul 64) Sam Mantom, Matty Bateman, J.J. Lacey, Bernard Christie. Subs not used: Reggie Young, David Saunders
Tudors' Man of the Match: Jonathan Lacey