Pulsating game sees Hemel draw 2-2 with fellow play-off chasers Welling

Hemel Town midfielder James Kaloczi.
Hemel Town midfielder James Kaloczi.

It was honours even at Vauxhall Road on Saturday after Hemel Town let a two-goal lead slip when hosting Welling United in a pulsating game which was a credit to the National League South.

Fifth-placed Hemel dominated the first period, going in at the break two goals to the good though most Tudors fans felt they deserved to be a couple more goals ahead after some excellent attacking moves left the fourth-ranked visitors looking relieved to hear the half-time whistle.

Town midfielder James Kaloczi could have opened the scoring in the first couple of minutes when he had a clear shot on goal but was unable to keep the ball down and it ended up flying over the bar.

Hemel’s new boy Antonio German, a former QPR and Stockport player, soon made himself known to the Tudors faithful when he fired Hemel in front after seven minutes. Receiving the ball on the edge of the box, he wasted no time unleashing a shot that left Welling keeper Calum Kitscha grasping at thin air.

The well-travelled 25-year-old has 14 former clubs on his resume, including Partick Thistle and Kerala Blasters of the Indian Super League.

Minutes later a well-timed run by Will Hoskins saw him break clear and plant the ball past Kitscha but the linesman flagged for a dubious offside - even

Welling’s manager Jamie Coyle looked surprised by the decision.

United were not completely without a threat and Hemel netminder Laurie Walker made a superb save from a free-kick after 25 minutes to keep Town’s lead intact.

And that lead was doubled on 35 minutes when German was adjudged to have been tripped just inside the box. The decision looked a soft one, but skipper Jordan Parkes wasn’t going to waste an opportunity like this and he smashed the penalty past Kitscha to give the Tudors a deserved second goal.

It was Parkes’ tenth goal of the season in all competitions this term - a fine total for any midfielder at this stage of a season.

Debutant German had an impressive first-half, illustrated by his skilful little step over that set Hoskins up on the left-hand side of the box before the break. Hoskins took his time and looked to have chipped Kitscha but the Welling keeper just re-adjusted to made a superb save.

The second period saw Welling revitalised after an obvious dressing down at half-time. They pushed forward from the start and were in Hemel’s faces every time they had possession, not allowing the time or space that they enjoyed had in the first 45 minutes.

The visitors pulled a goal back when the pacey Jeffrey Monakana drove down the left, leaving two Hemel defenders in his wake before crossing to Tom Bradbrook who rose above two defenders and headed home.

The pair almost repeated the trick minutes later but this time Walker was equal to Bradbrook’s effort and saved well.

Welling then equalised in strange circumstances. A ball was played through while a Welling player was clearly offside but the linesman didn’t flag and as Walker cleared, the Welling player closed him down thus making himself “active”. The officials didn’t react to this and Walker ended up scuffing his clearance to Joe Healey who controlled the ball inside Hemel’s half and fired straight back into the empty net with Walker out of position.

Whatever the decision, there was no doubt it was a great finish and it was very much game on.

Hemel seemed to settle after these setbacks and had several chances to win the game, with Parkes having two shots well-saved, the second of which was touched on to the post before bouncing clear.

Just before this there was a huge goalmouth scramble at Walker’s end with several shots getting blocked and saved. The ball somehow staying out and with the game getting stretched, it was then repeated in the Welling goalmouth. Once again several shots were fired towards goal and cleared off the line before the ball was finally saved.

There was still time for Scotty Shulton and Parkes to come close to grabbing a winner but in the end both sides had to settle for a share of the points.

The draw pushed Hemel down to eighth in the table and out of the play-off places on goal difference from Welling but the Tudors still have a game in hand.

However, it means they have now gone six games unbeaten in the league and such is the closeness at the top of the table, only three points separate Hemel from the leaders Dartford.

Previous table-toppers Braintree lost at the weekend - everything is still to play for.

Hemel: Laurie Walker, Joe Howe, Kyle Connolly, Jordan Parkes (captain), Tom Day (Callum Driver), Ismail Yakubu, James Kaloczi, Scotty Shulton, Will Hoskins

(David Moyo), Antonio German, Spencer McCall (Tyler Campbell). Subs not used: Alex Osborn and Matty Spring.

Attendance: 453.

Mitch’s man of the match: Jordan Parkes.