Dorking Wanderers 3 Hemel Hempstead Town 1
Hemel Manager Sammy Moore described this defeat as a bit of a wake up call coming after their impressive first game thrashing of Hungerford the previous Saturday.
The game was played at newly promoted Dorking’s Meadowbank Stadium on a 3G pitch, a surface that The Tudors have a poor recent record on. The pitch was heavily loaded with the now familiar rubber crumb which tended to slow the ball down and the hosts were clearly very happy playing on it, playing a patient passing game and early on they showed their hand by playing a tactic of drawing defenders out to the ball but having runners coming into space. As early as the 4th minute they could have taken the lead when Matty Briggs ran into one of these space but skied his effort high and wide. The linesmans flag saved him from further embarrassment as he would have been judged just offside.
Hemel thought they had taken the lead after 9 minutes when a superb Liam Nash curled over the wall and appeared to be heading into the corner, but Wanderers keeper Huk just got his fingertips to the effort, tipping it onto the post where it rebounded off the inside of the woodwork and across the face of the goal before two Hemel players could get a touch. After 15 minutes Dorking took the lead when a break down the right from Briggs ended up with Beasant saving well from the angle but the ball fell invitingly to Jason Prior who latched onto it and smashed into the roof of the net.
The game remained very even after this point but Dorking still looked dangerous when going forward and Hemel were still failing to pick up the runner. Jason Prior found himself in lots of space after another patient build up and he really should have doubled the lead but he drove the ball past the post with Beasant beaten.
The home side were dealing with Hemel’s depleted forward line comfortably now with Huk rarely troubled. They were guilty of some shirt pulling in and around the box that went unpunished though, the most blatent was when a free kick was floated over to the back post, Essam escaped his marker but as his rose to head the he was tugged back and the ball skimmed off his head and over the bar. The referee looked well placed but waved away Hemel’s appeals.
The Tudors kept pressing and a couple of Dorking defenders ended up in the book for fouls around the edge of the area. Just before the break Nash had another freekick blocked before the game changed dramatically for the worse for The Tudors right on the stroke of half time. Luke Howell, who was getting somewhat frustrated with the way the game was panning out, lost control of the ball in the centre of the park, in an effort to retrieve it he caught Luke Moore on the shin and the referee wasted no time in producing a red card. Both players had gone in high but Howell just mistimed the tackle and paid the price.
The second half saw Sammy Moore bring on two subs, bringing on Kpohomouh and Jack Midson and they started the half brightly. Midson missed an early chance before Liam Nash levelled the scores via a deflection that left Huk stranded on his line. Dorking weathered the early storm and started to get on top after this, making full use of the extra man. They also continued with their somewhat physical tactics and Jason Prior was added to the growing number of names in the referee’s notebook when he clattered in Sam Beasant, the Tudors keeper requiring some treatment after the incident. The Hemel faithful who had arrived in numbers kept singing and willing their side on but they were silenced when Prior gave the home side the lead on the hour mark. A corner was played short and then slid across to the edge of the box, Prior came in from the left untracked and had time and space to drive the ball home past the Hemel backline who had been waiting for the ball to be crossed in. It was a great example of how to play on the 3G and a tactic the Wanderers had clearly worked on.
This really took the sting out of Hemel and Dorking added to their tally on 63 minutes when James McShane added a third, taking advantage of space down the right as the Tudors pushed forward. To their credit the 10 men never gave up but rarely troubled Huk, who also found himself in the book for a very late challenge on Nash out on the right. The keeper didn’t really look like he was interested in playing the ball and was somewhat lucky to escape with just a yellow.
There was a late chance when Kpohomouh drove a ball across the face of the goal, the ball deflected off a defender and was heading goalwards but Huk managed to get a toe on it before collapsing in a heap in apparent agony, causing the referee to stop play with the ball loose in the area. This didn’t go down well with the Tudor Army and the keeper carried on after some treatment and some "friendly" comments from the supporters behind the goal who clearly felt he hadn’t hurt himself that badly.
After this Dorking saw the game out and Sammy Moore was left to reflect on what he described as a below par performance both on and off the ball. He hopes to have some of his injured players back, with Alex Wall almost certainly returning for the game at Hampton. Ricardo German is unlikely to play and Rob Sinclair is still a couple of weeks away.
Hemel : Sam Beasant, Tosan Popo, Craig Brahim-Barrett, Luke Howell (Jack Midson), Connor Essam, Mitch Dickenson (Jacques Kpohomouh) Liam Nash, Jake Howells, Sam Ashford, Tyrone Sterling, Isaac Galliford (Munache Sundire)
Crowd 694 Tudors Man of the Match Connor Essam.