Hemel Hempstead Town’s play-off hopes are well and truly alive as the Tudors came from behind to win at Eastbourne Borough.
Ben Herd scored a stoppage time winner for Dean Brennan’s side as they move up to fifth spot, with a game in hand on most of the teams below them after a 3-2 win at Priory Lane.
Hemel threatened the Sports early on, with Graeme Montgomery firing just over the top corner after Borough could only half-clear a corner, before Kane Haysman saw a free kick curl wide of the post from 20 yards at the other end.
Despite the Tudors having a large share of possession, it was Jamie Butler who made the first save of note twenty minutes in. Gavin McCallum laid the ball off to Craig Stone, whose fierce low drive from 25 yards was turned around the post by the Tudors keeper.
Borough then came even closer to taking the lead when Sam Beale’s whipped free kick into the area picked out an unmarked Stone at the far post, but his header back across goal went wide of the upright.
The Tudors were then fortunate not to go down to ten men, as the already cautioned Kyle Connolly pulled down Darren Lok on the touchline, but no card was shown by Andrew Laver.
Dean Brennan’s side then came close to breaking the deadlock on the half hour mark when a loose ball fell to Morgan Ferrier inside the area, but his effort from a tight angle grazed off the top of the bar and over.
However, it was the hosts who took the lead three minutes before the break. McCallum did well to win possession on the left, and duly fired a great ball across goal to Darren Lok in the middle, who couldn’t miss from close range.
Into the second half, and Hemel started on the front foot, and were denied a penalty by referee Laver after Ian Simpemba appeared to have a hold of Ibra Sekajja inside the area, but only before the Tudors were level ten minutes in. Montgomery did well to cut inside from the left, and played the ball low across goal to an unmarked Ferrier who coolly slotted the ball into the far corner.
And things got even worse for the hosts just two minutes later. A ball in picked out Matt Spring, whose scuffed effort fell kindly for Sekajja whose low volley beat the diving Lewis Carey to find the bottom corner from ten yards.
Having gone in front, the Tudors looked to set back and Borough went on the front foot, looking for that equaliser. It nearly came with twenty minutes to go, as Elliott Romain played the ball through to Matt Worthington on the left, but his left footed effort wide high and wide of the near post.
Despite that, the visitors still had their chances as Spring’s great ball over picked out Montgomery, but from twelve yards he could only drive the ball wide of the far corner.
Lok then had a great chance to at least test Butler, but after shaking off the challenge of Connolly, saw his effort go off target from inside the area.
Eastbourne were level six minutes from time in bizarre style. A quick free kick caught out Hemel, and Pinney’s ball into the area picked out an unmarked Nathan Collier, and the substitute’s looping header beat Butler to find the net.
In the 90th minute, Hemel missed a great chance to take all three points when a corner from the left picked out Jack Kelly, but his header from six yards went wide of the bottom corner.
However, the Tudors did pick up all three points with a goal in the second minute of stoppage time. McCallum was penalised for handball, and in the process was given a very harsh second yellow card and sent off as a result. Montgomery whipped the ball in from the right hand side, and picked out Ben Herd whose bullet header found the net despite Carey’s best efforts.
Eastbourne Borough: Carey, Worthington, Beale (Pinney 69), Stone, Simpemba ©, Buckley, Khina-John, Haysman (Collier 65), Lok, Romain, McCallum. Subs: Bosma, Worrall, Botting.
Hemel: Butler, Herd, Kelly, Mitchel-King, Connolly ©, Spring, Wellard, Thorne (Hickford 84), Sekajja, Ferrier (Richens 90), Montgomery. Subs: Parrott, Fidlay-Bada, Brooks.
Shots: EBR 9-11 HHT, Shots On Target: EBR 3-4 HHT, Corners: EBR 3-8 HHT, Fouls Committed: EBR 9-
11 HHT, Offside: EBR 2-4 HHT, Bookings: EBR 3-3 HHT, Red Cards: EBR 1-0 HHT.