A single goal in the 71st minute was enough for Slough Town to get the better of Hemel Hempstead Town on Saturday to all but end the Tudors’ playoff chances.
With both sides sitting in mid-table and with playoff places looking a distant dream, it was probably too much to expect a classic encounter and that is how the game panned out at Slough’s impressive new Arbour Park home.
The Tudors were in 13th place going into this National League South encounter, while Slough were just one place above in 12th.
Neither side got out of second gear early on, leading to a very dour first period, with only three chances of note at either end.
Hemel skipper Jordan Parkes saw his well-hit shot pushed round the post by Jack Turner in the Rebels’ goal after 10 minutes but that was the visitors’ only effort in the first-half.
Slough created a couple of half chances before the break, Matty Lench saw his header cleared off the line and a Danny Roberts effort was saved by keeper Laurie Walker after 40 minutes but that was it as far as goalmouth action was concerned.
To add to Hemel’s injury list woes, defender Joe Howe limped off on 38 minutes after being flattened by two Slough forwards who attacked a corner. They collided with each other and Howe was next in line as he cleared the ball, his foot appeared to stick in the pitch’s plastic surface before he was poleaxed by the Rebels’ strikers.
Tudors’ boss Joe Deeney, who was absent from the game as he was attending his brother’s wedding, will be wondering when his injury-hit squad will start getting some luck in this department.
He is still without long-term casualties Rob Sinclair, Steve Cawley, Kyle Connolly and Spencer McCall, while Tom Hamblin and Scott Shulton were unavailable for this clash too, so another injury will add to the pressure on the squad.
The second-half saw Hemel start well, but as the game wore on Slough looked the most likely to break the deadlock.
Walker had already saved well twice from ex-Tudor Billy Clifford, before a lack of concentration allowed Lee Togwell time and space to pick his spot to give Slough the lead after 71 minutes.
Most Tudor’s fans felt it had been coming as Hemel were getting pushed onto the back foot at that stage.
Minutes later and with almost their first attack of the second-half, Hemel could have equalised when a great through ball from Ollie Swain found Herschel Sanchez Watt in space inside the area, but he was closed down quickly by Turner and his shot was saved.
That proved to be the last real chance of the game as Slough controlled possession from then on and the game fizzled out.
It was a disappointing result and performance, putting Hemel in 14th place and 13 points adrift of the last playoff spot with only ten games left. It extended their winless streak in the league to six games.
There are still points to play for but it would take a massive change in fortunes for the Tudors to trouble the clubs occupying the top-seven playoff positions.
Deeney will be hoping to get a few healthy bodies back for this Tuesday night’s tough home clash with one of those sides in the playoff mix, seventh-ranked Dartford FC.
He will also be asking for a better performance and knows his side will have to be at their best to trouble the Kent side, who are having another good season.
Hemel line-up v Slough: Laurie Walker, Jacques Kpohomouh, Joe Howe (Ollie Swain), Jordan Parkes (captain), Darren Ward, Frankie Mussonda, Kavan Cotter, Kieran Monlouis, Leon Lobjoit (Jack Snelus), Arel Amu (Herschel Sanchez Watt), Arthur Read. Subs not used: Matteo Mendy, George Paulin.
Tudors’ man of the match: Laurie Walker.