Hemel Hempstead Town 1 Torquay United 4
The injury hit Tudors came up against the Torquay “Juggernaut” who certainly showed why they are top of the table with an impressive performance at Vauxhall Road. The Gulls are a full time outfit boosted by three Bristol City loanees and it was backs against the wall for the home side as the visitors pushed forward from the start of the game.
They had a dozen corners in the first period with Hemel restricted to the odd foray as they tried to keep them at bay, though to be fair, despite the almost constant pressure Torquay created little as the Tudors back line defended heroically, throwing bodies in front of shots and restricting them to long ranges efforts. The first shot on target came after 25 minutes when Connor Lemonheigh-Evans managed to find some space on the edge of the box but Laurie Walker was equal to his effort tipping the ball over the bar.
After a brief spell of Hemel pressure, The gulls broke the deadlock, a long ball was intercepted by Tom Hamblin but he then found himself surrounded by three Torquay forwards who stole the ball and broke at pace, with two players to pick from Keating passed the ball inside to Janneh who smashed the ball past the exposed Walker to give them the lead.
Walker made another decent save on 35 minutes when the excellent Jamie Reid shot from range and it was starting to look ominous for Hemel at this stage. In a rare break forward, Jordan Parkes almost set up Scott Shulton who had outpaced the Torquay defence but the pass was just too long and Gulls keeper Shaun MacDonald just pipped Shults to the ball.
Hemel fans were somewhat relieved to go in at the break only one goal down but it was short lived as Torquay went two up just a minute into the second period when Jake Andrews made a break down the left and fired home from a tight angle. This setback seemed to revitalise the Tudors and they started to make some inroads themselves, forcing a couple of corners in quick succession. Jordan Parkes almost caught MacDonald off his line, trying a chip from 30 yards, but he under hit his effort allowing the keeper to get back and make a save.
Despite having more of the ball in the second half, Hemel still created little against a well organised defence and with the clock ticking down Torquay settled the contest with a third goal on 81 minutes, after the Tudors failed to clear an attack, the ball went out to Ben Wynter who crossed to the unmarked Gulls Skipper, Asa Hall who headed past the helpless Walker, much to the joy of the large contingent of Yellows supporters behind the goal. With just a couple of minutes left Torquay went four up when Reid smashed the ball home, connecting with a crossfield pass first time, almost taking the roof of the net with it.
Hemel gained a consolation in injury time when a corner was headed across the face by Lobjoit and Frankie Musonda arrived at the back post to plant the ball past MacDonald, but it was all too little too late and The Gulls headed back to Devon with the spoils and extended their lead at the top of the table to four points.
Manager Joe Deeney will be hoping to get some of his walking wounded back for the game down at Dulwich Hamlet and that is followed by another tough outing at high flying Woking on Tuesday evening. Tudors fans will be hoping that they can regroup after a difficult few weeks and get back into the playoff race, a task that is looking increasingly difficult but is still achievable.
Hemel 1: Laurie Walker 2: Jacques Kpohomouh (16: Leon Lobjoit) 3: Frankie Musonda 4: Jordan Parkes © 5: Darren Ward 6: Tom Hamblin (12: Oliver Swain) 7: James Kaloczi 8: Scott Shulton (14: Jack Snelus) 9: Sanchez Watt 10: Kavan Cotter 11: Joe Howe Subs not used: 15: Steve Cawley 17: George Paulin.
Crowd 624 Tudors Man of the Match : Kavan Cotter.