Hemel Hempstead Town 0 Wealdstone 1
A lapse of concentration from Hemel just after the half hour mark proved to be costly as it led to the only goal in a tight and sometimes physical affair.
The home side made the brighter start and could have taken an early lead when a Jordan Parkes corner caused chaos in the Stones box, luckily for them it didn’t quite fall Hemel’s way and it was eventually cleared. After this Wealdstone got more of a foothold in the game and forced several corners without really threatening Laurie Walker’s goal. Then in the 33rd minute another corner was played short, catching the Hemel defence off guard and the incoming cross was met by an unmarked David Pratt who rose and powered his header home past the helpless Walker to give them the lead..
That was pretty much it for chances in the first half although Jordan Parkes had a free kick opportunity just outside the box just before the break that looked all set up for the Tudors Skipper. He floated the ball over the wall but it lacked power and Jonathan North was able to get across and save easily.
The second period saw both side's “huff and puff” without really causing each other any problems. Another Parkes free kick, somewhat uncharacteristically flew high and wide and he fired in a couple of corners that worried Stones back line somewhat but it started to look as though the one goal was going to be enough. There was almost a dramatic end to the game when a good break by debutant Tom Knowles set up Steve Cawley who got his first shot away which was blocked but he fired in the rebound and it looked set for the bottom corner before the Tudors “Nemesis” Jonathan North somehow got a hand to it right on the line and it was then cleared. North has so often been the scourge of Hemel, earning his club many a point in this fixture but this time it was all three as The Stones held on to move into second spot, condemning Joe Deeney to his first defeat in charge at Vauxhall Road.
Wealdstone will be pleased with their nights work and over the course of the 90 minutes probably just about deserved the win, they look like every other side that has gone on to win promotion or qualify for the play offs, a big, physical side who are well organised and work very hard, as demanded by their very vocal manager Bobby Wilkinson. I expect them to be there or thereabouts come May.
As for the Tudors, it’s still very much a work in progress under the new management team of Deeney and Matt Spring but they are on the right path and are still only a couple of points off the playoff spots with two thirds of the season still to go.
Hemel 1: Laurie Walker 2: Joe Howe 3: Kyle Connolly 4: Jordan Parkes © 5: Darren Ward 6: Ismail Yakubu 7: Scott Shulton 8: Kavan Cotter (16: Matteo Mendy) 9: Steve Cawley 10: Rob Sinclair 11: Tom Knowles. Subs not used : Ollie Swain, Alex Osborn, James Kaloczi, George Paulin.
Attendance 703 Tudors Man of the Match : Joe Howe.