Hemel Hempstead Town 2 Eastleigh 1
Hemel booked themselves a place in the next round of the FA Trophy with an excellent win against Eastleigh who are riding high in the Vanarama National League Premier Division.
To say conditions were difficult would be an understatement as driving rain lashed down for the entire 90 minutes at Vauxhall Road and with the temperature barely rising above freezing, it was a very uncomfortable afternoon for players and supporters alike. Despite the conditions both sides contributed to an entertaining game and it was Hemel who just came out on top, surviving a nervy last few minutes as Eastleigh piled forward in search of an equaliser.
The first 15 minutes saw the visitors show their class and they created some good opportunities in this period, but the longer the game went on the Tudors became more confident and soon started to create opening themselves. After a couple of early chances for The Spitfires, Hemel could have taken the lead when Jack Snelus shot over the bar and then Darren Ward saw his header saved at point blank range minutes later.
With half time approaching, Eastleigh’s Danny Hollands had a shot cleared off the line and at the start of the second period, Laurie Walker then saved well from Michael Green. Walker saved another effort from McCallum before the Tudors broke the deadlock in the 69th minute. Steve Cawley was played through superbly by Jordan Parkes and he made no mistake, slotting the ball past Stryjek to make it 1 – 0.
Hemel continued to trouble their Premier Division opponents as the game wore on and went further ahead after Scott Shulton was adjudged to have been tripped in the box on 82 minutes. Up stepped Skipper Jordan Parkes and he sent Stryjek the wrong way to put The Tudors two up with less than ten minutes to go. Eastleigh were given a lifeline after 85 minutes when Walker failed to gather a loose ball in the six yard box after Yakubu had stopped it on the line and Ollie Dennet was left with a tap in to reduce the arrears but Hemel held on for a famous victory and a place in the last 16 of the competition.
Tudors Manager Joe Deeney said after the game “I was so proud of the players for their efforts in awful conditions. The pitch was excellent despite the weather and that the ground staff should be given massive credit for that. I felt that the team showed great togetherness throughout the game and always looked positive in possession, playing some excellent stuff going forward and with a bit of luck we could have had more goals. The supporters were, once again terrific and they didn’t stop the whole game which made a huge difference. We can enjoy the win over the next couple of days then it’s back to work on Tuesday in preparation for another massive game on Saturday against Welling United in the league.
Immensely proud of everybody today, COYT !
Hemel : 1: Laurie Walker 2: Joe Howe 3: Kyle Connolly 4: JordanParkes © 5 Darren Ward 6: Ismail Yakubu 7: Kavan Cotter (16; Connor Tomlinson) 8: Scott Shulton 9: Steve Cawley (Alex Osborn) 10: Jack Snelus 11: Tom Knowles (14: Sanchez-Watt) Subs not used: 15:Matteo Mendy 17:George Paulin.