Hemel Town made it two wins from their opening two National League South fixtures of the season as they showed their character with a hard-fought 1-0 win at Chelmsford City on Monday night.
Jamie Slabber got the goal for Hemel after 15 minutes, before Tudors keeper Jamie Butler saved a penalty from Charlie Henry as Hemel stood firm to claim all three points at the Melbourne Park Stadium.
Hemel went into the game missing a number of players through injury, while manager Dean Brennan was unable to attend the match as his partner was due to give birth – meaning assistant boss Stuart Maynard took control of the side.
Hemel started the game brightly – full of confidence from Saturday’s opening day win over Dartford – with Slabber linking up well with strike partner Oliver Hawkins, and Mo Shariff looking lively on the left wing.
A few half chances arrived for both teams in the opening exchanges, but it was Hemel who took the lead after a quarter of an hour when Ben Herd whipped in a fine cross, allowing Hawkins to nod the ball back across goal for Slabber to take a touch and slot home confidently past Clarets keeper Ashley Timms.
Hemel were clearly buoyed by the goal and could have doubled their advantage shortly afterwards when Hawkins again won the ball in the air, but he could not keep his header below the crossbar.
The Tudors continued to go in search of a second goal, but it was Chelmsford who had a golden opportunity to restore parity after Hemel’s Michael Richens was penalised for a clumsy challenge in the penalty area.
Henry stepped up to take the spot-kick, but Butler guessed correctly and produced a fine stop to his left to keep Hemel in front.
The Tudors were forced into two changes before the interval as Dennis Oli and Shariff were both forced off injured, to be replaced by Jamal Lowe and James Potton, but Hemel held firm until half-time.
Chelmsford came out with renewed vigour after the interval and began to press for an equaliser, with both Hugo Skepelhorn and Rory McAuley firing off target, before the Tudors were relieved to survive an almighty goalmouth scramble.
The ball bounced back off the crossbar twice from a header, while Butler made a good stop before eventually managing to claw the ball away from goal – much to the relief of the travelling Tudor faithful.
The home side began to get more desperate in their attempts to salvage something from the game, but Hemel – marshalled well by centre-back Terrell Forbes – continued to repel their attacks and held on for a well-deserved three points.