Hemel Hempstead Town 4 Wingate and Finchley 2
Match report and post match thoughts from Joe Deeney.
The Tudors were pushed all the way by their lower league opponents who looked dead and buried at 4-0 but then two goals in as many minutes in the second half brought the tie back to life.
Hemel had most of the possession in the opening period Darren Ward had a good chance after 10 minutes but his attempted header appeared to clip his shoulder and went over the bar. It was only a brief reprieve for Wingate however and it was Ward who made up for his earlier miss by toe poking the ball home after a scramble in the six yard box. It was Darren's first goal of the season and one The Tudors deserved for all their early pressure.
If the home fans were expecting the floodgates to open, it didn't happen as the Bostik League side weathered the early storm and started to get a foothold in the game, forcing a couple of corners. The first was cleared but the second found Ahmet Rifat who was unmarked at the back post, he should have scored but only glanced his header onto the frame of the goal and it was cleared. Laurie Walker then saved well from a free kick and it was clear that the lower league side were not going to just roll over in this tie.
After this period on the back foot and somewhat against the run of play, Hemel increased their lead with a classic counter attack. A long ball upfield was controlled by Sanchez Watt who had beaten the offside trap and as Gore came out to close him down he chipped the keeper from all of 25 yards, the ball took an age to drop but it eventually went in via the far post. This seemed to really knock the stuffing out of Wingate and the Tudors took control of the game. They added a third right on half time when Darren ward arrived unmarked at a corner and buried his header for his second of the game and it looked as though it was game over.
Hemel started the second half on the front foot and went four up, just 5 minutes after the restart when a superb flowing move down the right ended up with Jack Snelus crossing to Watt who had the easy task of tapping the ball past Shane Gore. Scott Shulton did well to create an opening minutes later and had three players breaking to his left as he approached the penalty area, he saw them and almost threaded the ball through Cronin’s legs but the Wingate centre half just got a block in and prevented what would been a real chance for Hemel’s fifth.
Just when it looked as though the Visitors were going to be the side on the end of Joe Deeney’s predicted “Hammering” The Tudors took their foot off the gas and were made to pay when Wingate forced a corner that just wasn’t cleared, it found skipper Sean Cronin and he looped a header, from just inside the box over a defender on the line and into the net. Hemel fans started getting slightly nervous moments later when the arrears were reduced even further. Some more indifferent defending ended up with a clumsy trip in the box. The referee pointed to the spot and Cronin smashed the ball home, sending walker the wrong way.
The feared onslaught never really came and it was the home side who could have gone further ahead when Rob Sinclair was put clear by Watt, he picked his spot but Gore managed to block his effort and the ball was cleared. In the end, Hemel regained their composure and saw the game out comfortably and are the last remaining National League South side left in the competition. Indeed reaching the last 16 is the furthest they have ever achieved and they will hoping to get a big name out of the hat on Monday.
Tudors Manager Joe Deeney was delighted with the result but said his side need to cut out the sloppy five minutes that they have been guilty of in recent games. He couldn’t fault any of his players for work rate and effort which is what he continues to work on and the players have completely bought into his ideas and what he is trying to achieve at the club. He also said he has been looking at his attacking options and is aware that is the area he needs to strengthen but he just does not want to sign a player for the sake of it. Any new signing must want to come to the club and have the right attitude on the field and in the dressing room. He asked fans to be patient as everything is still very much a “work in progress” but he is pleased with the way things are shaping up.
I asked about Ismail Yakubu who limped off and Joe said he has picked up a hamstring injury that may keep him out for a couple of weeks but he said that he has sufficient back up in this area, with James Kaoloczi, Olly Swain and possibly Tom Hamblin all capable of taking his place.
Hemel: Laurie Walker 7 Joe Howe 7 Frankie Musonda 7 Jordan Parkes © 7 (Steve Cawley 6) Darren Ward 8 Ismail Yakubu 7 (Connor Tomlinson 6) Jack Snelus 7 (James Kaloczi 6) Scott Shulton 7 Sanchez Watt 9 Rob Sinclair 8 Kyle Connolly 7 Subs not used: Sydney Ibie, George Paulin.
Referee Will Finnie. Crowd 454 Match Rating 4/5 Man of the Match Sanchez Watt (Hemel)