An 86th minute strike from player/assistant manager Jack Midson earned a vital 2-1 victory for a resilient Hemel Hempstead Town today (Saturday) as the high-flying Tudors capitalised on a rare defeat elsewhere for Wealdstone.
Playing against perennial bogey team Bath City, Hemel were reduced to ten men in the 79th minute after Luke Howell saw red for the second time this season, but the hosts rebounded to take maximum points at Vauxhall Road.
After the game, jubilant Hemel boss Sammy Moore said: “We’re in a good moment. Its a tremendous victory and I’m absolutely delighted with the boys.”
The win means Hemel maintain their grip on second spot in the National League South table, while runaway leaders Wealdstone’s margin at the summit was cut to five points when they lost for only the second time this term with their 4-1 reverse at home to Havant & Waterlooville.
Resilience was the watch-word as the Tudors showed grit to bounce back from their disappointing FA Cup exit last weekend at Beaconsfield.
And they also had to tackle adversity in the game - overcoming both a 1-0 deficit and the loss of Howell with 11 minutes to go.
He was sent-off after being adjudged by referee Isaac Searle to have gone in late with a challenge on Matt Bower. It was the 32-year-old’s second dismissal this term following his early-bath against Dorking Wanderers on August 6.
The hosts went behind in the 32nd minute when eventual goal hero Midson conceded a penalty for handball after a Connor Riley-Lowe cross. Ryan Brunt stepped up to convert the spot kick.
But Hemel’s midfield maestro Liam Nash came up trumps again to level matters in first-half stoppage time with a high shot from the edge of the box for his seventh goal of the season.
In the second period Craig Braham-Barrett created some good chances for Hemel with his work down the flank but it was not rewarded and Sam Ashford shot over the bar from six yards out as it looked like Bath would live up to their bogey-side billing and deny the Tudors a win once again.
However, Midson ensured the Tudor Army went home delighted after his late heroics completed the turnaround. Tyrone Sterling saw his shot hit the post after a corner, but it fell to the feet of Midson at the far post and the veteran marksman made no mistake to put away his second goal of the campaign.
It was Hemel’s third win in four league outings and sets them up well for the autumn run-in.
Hemel manager Moore later said on Twitter: “Unbelievable three points today. The boys showed tremendous character to come from 1-0 down.
“The second-half we were outstanding. It was important to get a reaction after last week. The fans were unbelievable again and it was nice to see the corporate box full. [The fans] made the difference.”
Next up for the Tudors in the league is a second versus third showdown when Hemel travel to Hampshire on Saturday, October 12, to take on Wealdstone’s conquerors Havant & Waterlooville.
Hemel line-up v Bath: Danny Boness, Tosan Popo, Craig Braham-Barrett (Jacques Kpohomouh, 87 mins), Jake Howells, Connor Essam (captain), Mitch Dickenson, Liam Nash (Isaac Galliford, 87 mins), Luke Howell, Tyrone Sterling, Jack Midson, Sam Ashford (Ricardo German, 80 mins). Subs not used: Munashe Sundire, George Paulin.