Hemel Hempstead Town 1 Welling united 1
Its was honours even as Hemel’s brave 10 men just failed to hold onto the 3 points, conceding an equaliser in the dying minutes, just when it looked as they were going to hold on for the win.
A rather quiet first period came to life after a break by Welling was halted when Kyle Connolly brought down Nassim L’Ghoul as he raced clear. The referee consulted his linesman before showing Connolly the red card.
Before this both sides appeared to be cancelling each other out and the first shot on target didn’t come until the 25th minute when Welling’s lively midfielder Bradley Goldberg created some space for himself before shooting straight into Laurie Walkers arms. Jordan Parkes had a decent effort well saved shorty after and Alex Osborn was unfortunate to find himself in the book for simulation after being tripped on the edge of the box. There was clear contact but the referee felt that Osborn had dived and produced a yellow card.
With five minutes left before half time Hemel gained a corner that was cleared out to the right, Woking were quick to counter and a good through ball found Nassim L’Ghoul who beat a challenge on the halfway line and appeared to be heading clear before Kyle Connolly intervened, bringing the pacey winger down 30 yards from goal. After some consultation the referee sent Connolly off, reducing the Tudors to ten men. The decision ended also Alex Osborn’s contribution as he was sacrificed for the introduction of defender Ollie Swain who went to left back. The dismissal seemed to revitalise Hemel and they pushed forward before the break and won a corner which Jordan Parkes typically swung in at pace, it was fisted clear from right under the cross bar by Dan Wilks in the Wings goal, just when it looked as though it might just curl in.
With their one man advantage, Welling dominated the possession in second half but they struggled to threaten Laurie Walker in the Hemel goal and The Tudors always looked dangerous on the counter. A brave double substitution saw the introduction of Sanchez Watt and Rob Sinclair, who were both returning from injury. This opened the game up much more and Welling were made to pay for not taking advantage of their superior numbers when, in the 70th minute a superb flowing move down the left ended up with Scott Shulton tucking home after being put clear by Jordan Parkes.
Welling continued to huff and puff and the lively L’Ghoul and Bradley Goldberg were usually involved in the action but just when it looked as though they had run out of ideas they found themselves level in somewhat bizarre circumstances. A brief spell of pressure saw the ball played out to full back Gavin McCallum, his attempted cross deceived everyone before hitting the inside of the post then trickling over the line, much to the relief of the visiting fans who had all but given up on getting anything from the game.
It was very harsh on Hemel who had defended magnificently but in the end had to settle for a share of the spoils.
Joe Deeney said after the game that he was once again immensely proud of his players, every one of them. I asked him what he thought about some of the refereeing decisions and he said “I won’t comment on the Officials, I’ll let people make their own minds up on that.
He hopes to have somewhere near a full squad to choose from on Boxing Day and he is looking forward to the game. “We now have a dressing room that is full of great characters and it was great to have Sinclair and Watt back in the fold. I though Ollie Swain did superbly when he came on, he has been patient and has trained very well, his attitude has been first class and he did well against a very good winger. He has been fortunate to have such great, experienced guys around him in Darren Ward and Ismail Yakubu who I also thought were immense yesterday. There is nothing more satisfying as a manager than watching your players dig in and work as hard as they did. I felt sick for them when Welling equalised. I talk a lot about work rate and application but there is also excellent ability in the dressing room as well. It’s a massive game on Boxing Day and what is critical now is recovery and professionalism, I trust the players to look after themselves on Christmas Day and we will prepare thoroughly for what will be a great atmosphere I’m sure, at St Albans.
I’d like to say once again, thank you for all your support and I hope you all have a great Christmas”
Hemel: Laurie Walker 7 Joe Howe 7 Kyle Connolly 6 Jordan Parkes © 7 Darren Ward 7 Ismail Yakubu 7 Alex Osborn 6 (Ollie Swain 8) Scott Shulton 7 Steve Cawley 7 Connor Tomlinson 7 (Sanchez Watt 7) Jack Snelus 7 (Rob Sinclair 7) Subs not used: Matteo Mendy, George Paulin.