Hemel Hempstead Town fans were treated to a real festive thriller as the Tudors saw off Banbury United 5-3 on Boxing Day to move five points clear at the top of the Calor League Southern Premier Division.
The exciting victory made it 11 straight home wins for Dean Brennan’s side, and increased their lead at the top after second-placed Chesham drew 2-2 with St Albans City in the day’s early kick-off.
Hemel opened the scoring through defender Shane Blackett on his home debut, smashing home his goal after Ben Mackey’s shot was cleared off the line.
Striker Lewis Toomey then doubled the lead from Danny Talbot’s corner as he flicked in Mackey’s header across goal.
Hemel went into the break 2-0 up, but Banbury stunned the Tudors in the second half with two quick-fire goals from Claudio Dias to level things up.
Hemel struck back again, though, and it was hit-man Mackey who did the damage.
Showing the killer instinct that has seen him race to the top of the Hemel goalscoring charts this season, Mackey latched on to a miscued clearance, dummied his marker and finished low under the keeper to make it 3-2.
There was still plenty of drama left to come and Hemel goalkeeper Laurie Walker came to his side’s rescue when he denied Dias a hat-trick from the penalty spot after Banbury had been handed a soft spot kick.
Buoyed by Walker’s heroics, Hemel pressed for a fourth goal and it duly arrived courtesy of super sub Charlie Mpi who restored the hosts’ two-goal advantage when he finished superbly after holding off his marker.
Banbury were not finished, however, and Dias completed the hat-trick his performance had merited to bring the score back to 4-3 and ensure a nervous conclusion to the game for the Tudor faithful.
Hemel are made of tough stuff, though, and they were not about to see their mammoth Vauxhall Road winning streak come to an end.
A free-kick was awarded to the Tudors in the dying moments, but rather than play the ball into the corner to protect his side’s slender lead, man of the match Jordan Parkes stepped up and curled his effort straight in the top corner to wrap up the three points.
Next up for Hemel is a trip to Corby on Saturday, before the Tudors head to Chesham United on New Year’s Day for a huge top of the table showdown.
The side’s next home game is on Saturday, January 4 against in-form Biggleswade Town.