Hemel Town fans have seen some topsy-turvey scorelines recently and they were treated to another tense goal-fest at York Road on Bank Holiday Monday as the Tudors beat Maidenhead United 3-2.
Three goals to the good and seemingly on the way to three deserved points, they suddenly hit the panic button and were left hanging on at the end of an exciting clash against Maidenhead.
The Magpies had an excellent record on home soil and with the Tudors still unbeaten in the league away from Vauxhall Road, something had to give.
It was the visitors who turned on the style in the first period with an excellent display of counter attacking football that left United’s normally water tight defence in tatters by the halfway mark.
On eight minutes, Jamie Slabber sensed hesitation between United’s Dean Inman and keeper Carl Pentney, nipping in between the pair to cause panic and confusion.
The home keeper dropped the ball, then collided with Inman to leave Slabber the simple task of squaring the ball to an oncoming Graeme Montgomery, who fired home first time to give the Tudors the lead. The unfortunate Inman had to be replaced by Mark Nisbet after some lengthy treatment.
Matty Spring then brought the best out of Pentney when his superbly flighted free-kick was tipped over the bar on the quarter of an hour mark.
With Maidenhead still coming to terms with Hemel’s excellent movement and passing, it was no surprise when they went further behind after 34 minutes with a move that spanned the pitch.
Slabber received the ball in the middle of the park and touched it on the overlapping Kyle Connolly who raced to the byline before crossing to an unmarked Ollie Hawkins who made no mistake, crashing his first time shot into the back of the net, giving Pentney no chance.
The Magpies were restricted to long range efforts and their manager, Alan Devonshire, was forced into another substitution – this time a tactical one, with Dave Tarpey replacing Ryan Upward to try and change the way the match was progressing.
It made little impact, however, and just before the break another excellent passing move saw Slabber and Connolly combine again; this it was Slabber who got onto the end of the left-back’s cross, tucking home from close range to make it 3-0 to The Tudors.
The second period saw the visitors ease up somewhat, though they nearly went four up when a testing cross from Montgomery was almost diverted into his own net by United skipper Alan Massey; his header just missing the near post, much to the relief of his keeper.
With United offering little in resistance, Hemel manager Dean Brennan replaced Hawkins and Slabber, handing Watford loanee Ogo Obi his first appearance and also giving Dennis Oli the chance to return after his recent injury.
This seemed to affect Hemel’s play somewhat and Maidenhead were able to get a foothold in the game in terms of possession.
With the clock ticking down, they earned a free-kick on the egde of the box. The resulting effort was hammered through a crowd of players and Jamie Butler was only able to parry it out to the on-rushing Sam Barratt, who swept the ball home.
This triggered a real period of pressure, with the lively Tarpey starting to run at players and cause problems.
Ben Herd then inexplicably headed a loose ball back towards his own goal, which was pounced upon by Barratt, who raced clear and crossed to the unmarked Tarpey who tapped home to the delight of the home supporters behind the goal.
James Potton was then replaced by Ed Asafu-Adjaye in an attempt to stem the flow of attacks, and it looked as though it had done the trick, with Maidenhead again reduced to long range efforts, one of which landed on the roof of a house behind the goal.
As the final whistle approached, another Magpies attack caused panic in the Tudors defence and a goal-bound shot was handled in the area by Michael Richens and a penalty was given. Richens receiving a red card in the process.
With the comeback seemingly complete, Tudors supporters stood watching in shock at what had happened. They hadn’t allowed for the excellence of Butler however, as he guessed correctly, saving the spot kick, with the ball crashing into his face and away for a corner. The Hemel custodian received treatment for a cut to his nose for his efforts.
This proved to be the last action in a thrilling encounter, with three more hard earned points away from home.
The healthy Tudors following stood and applauded their team off the field with special cheers for the hero of the moment, Butler. At the end of the day, a bit too close for comfort, but still an excellent result for Brennan’s boys.
Man of the match : Kyle Connolly
Tudors Team 1: Jamie butler 2: Ben Herd 3: Kyle Connolly 4: Dannile Pappoe 5: Louis John 6: Matt Spring 7: James Potton (c) (15 Asafu-Adjaye) 8: Micheal Richens 9: Oliver Hawkins (17; Ogo Obi) 10: Jamie Slabber (12: Oli) 11: Graeme Montgomery Subs not used 14: Zak Jules 16: Noor Husin.