St Albans City 0 Hemel Hempstead Town 1
Hemel Town maintained their promotion push with a vital victory over fierce rivals St Albans at Clarence Park on Easter Monday.
Going into the game on the back of a 1-1 draw with Barwell two days earlier, the Tudors knew a win was needed to keep them in second place in the Evo-Stik League Southern Premier Division table.
And Dean Brennan’s side duly delivered as midfielder David Hutton pounced after half-time to notch the only goal of the game to earn the three points for his side.
Hemel were made to work hard for the victory, but the Tudors were good value for the win which gives them a nine-point cushion in the play-off places.
The match had started evenly, with neither side creating many clear-cut chances until St Albans forward Greg Ngoyi saw his looping header expertly tipped over the bar by Tudors keeper Sam Beagle.
The hosts had another glorious opportunity soon afterwards when Chris Henry found himself unmarked six yards out, but the striker headed wide with the goal gaping.
After surviving those scares, Hemel found more fluency in their play and midfielder Jordan Parkes started to boss proceedings while Dave Pearce caused problems on the flanks.
And it was Pearce – so often at the centre of Hemel’s attacking endeavours – who created the opening goal.
The diminutive winger picked up possession on the right and cut the ball back from the by-line, where former Saints man Hutton was on hand to slot home against his old club.
Knowing a defeat would all but end their own play-off aspirations, St Albans knew they needed to find a way back into the game and pressed forward in search of an equaliser.
The hosts did manage to get the ball in the net, but their celebrations were cut short when the goal was ruled out for a hand-ball from Fabio Bufano.
Henry twice tried his luck from range, but was denied on both occasions by the impressive Beagle.
Hemel looked confident of defending their lead as the final whistle neared, and they duly held on to claim the valuable win.