Hemel Hempstead Town continued their promotion push with a battling 2-1 win over fellow playoff hopefuls Gosport Borough at Vauxhall Road.
Following a goalless first half, the Tudors upped the ante after half-time and earned the points with goals from Jordan Parkes and Oliver Hawkins, either side of an equaliser from Gosport’s Rory Williams.
In truth, it was Boro who were the better side in the first half, but Hemel came out with renewed vigour after the break to record the vital three points.
The game started slowly, with neither side managing to find their rhythm on the notoriously sticky Vauxhall Road playing surface.
A half chance fell to Gosport striker Justin Bennett after a Hemel defensive mix-up but he could only fire into the side netting, before Hemel keeper Charlie May did well to claw away a free-kick from Danny Smith.
The clearest opening of the half was presented to Boro striker Matt Patterson when Tudors centre-back Moussa Diarra misjudged the bounce of the ball, but again May did well to thwart the forward as he bore down on goal.
The visitors came close again soon afterwards when Tom Dunford unleashed an effort from just inside the area and saw the ball cannon back off the foot of the post.
The Tudors created very little in the first 45 minutes, but they were quickly out of the blocks after the interval and soon took the lead.
James Potton exchanged passes with Zane Banton in the area before going to ground, and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot – despite the vociferous appeals from the Boro players.
Carptain marvel Parkes stepped up to the challenge, and he duly dispatched the resulting spot kick to put the Tudors in front.
The lead, however, was not to last long as Gosport got themselves back on level terms within two minutes. The ball was played upfield and broke to the edge of the area, where Williams was waiting to unleash a cracking drive off the inside of the post.
To their credit, Hemel responded well to the set-back, and it was Hawkings who delivered the killer blow. Parkes floated a fine corner into the box, where Hawkins hung in the air before directing a powerful downward header into the net.
Banton came close to a third for Hemel with a shot that smacked back off the post, while Gosport created a few half chances of their own, but the Tudors held on for a crucial three points.