Hemel snatched a point with a penalty just minutes from time at Havant and Waterlooville to keep their five-game undefeated streak alive in the league but news of striker Charlie Sheringham’s departure from the club overshadowed the match somewhat.
It looked as though time was all but running out on the Tudors down in Hampshire on Saturday but skipper Jordan Parkes saved the day with his 85th minute spot-kick and ninth goal of the season in all competitions.
They were dealt an early blow when the in-form Sheringham was omitted from the starting line-up and the news quickly spread that he had gone to Bangladesh to join Saif sporting club in the Bengali Premier league.
It was assumed that he might be joining his father, England and Spurs legend Teddy, who has a managerial position on a club in India but this isn’t the case.
Charlie, who has made 19 appearances this season and fired in six goals, had always stated his intentions to do some travelling and see the world and now the Tudors will have to do without his services. It will put a strain on an already creaking forward line which is missing star striker David Moyo through injury.
New signing Will Hoskins, an ex-Watford striker, took Sheringham’s place up front and with Moyo suffering from his latest setback with the foot injury he initially hurt on August 1, it was clear that Hoskins would be having to do a lot of work on his own.
Captain Parkes played further forward but it was Hoskins who was left to battle it out with Havant’s two big centre halves, with the later usually coming out on top. Credit to the new man, he is still trying to get back to match fitness but never gave up and showed some nice touches in and around the box when the ball was played into his feet.
The Hawks came into the game on a similar decent run of form as Hemel and they were out of the blocks very quickly, forcing Hemel onto the back foot straight from the kick-off.
Jason Prior made a great run down the right and unleashed a shot that Tudors’ keeper Laurie Walker did well to push over the bar and it was clear to the travelling Hemel fans that they could be in for a tough afternoon.
Prior looked very lively throughout and caused Hemel’s backline a few problems but after the early scare, Walker didn’t really get troubled as the Hawks often wasted good possession with a poor final pass.
The Tudors real first chance fell to Spencer McCall on the half-hour mark when he latched on to a poor clearance but he drove his shot straight at Havant’s netminder Ryan Young.
This seemed to give the visitors a bit more confidence and minutes later a superb through ball saw Parkes race clear on goal but he was forced out wide by some timely defending and his shot was deflected just over the bar with the keeper beaten. The referee and linesman somehow contrived to award a goal kick, much to the annoyance of the Tudor Army camped behind the goal.
It proved to be an important moment in the game as Havant drove forward and pushed Hemel back towards their own area. In the 40th minute Prior forced Walker into a copybook save to his earlier one when he shot from the edge of the area, Walker again tipped the ball over at full stretch.
The resulting corner wasn’t really dealt with and the ball ended up crashing off the bar and onto the line. In the confusion, Ryan Woodford took full advantage and headed into the empty net to give the home side a 1-0 lead.
The second period saw the hosts push forward, looking for that all-important second goal but despite periods of possession they were left to rue some missed opportunities.
Walker and the superb partnership of Lloyd Doyley and Ismail Yakubu kept Hemel in the game and there was always a feeling that if it remained 1–0, Hemel could get back into it.
As the half progressed, the introduction of Eddy Nelson-Addy gave the visitors some much-needed pace up front and he was prepared to run at defenders from the off.
They had a period of pressure and forced a series of corners, one of which should have led to an equaliser when Yakubu met a Parkes delivery but he couldn’t keep his header down and the ball flew over the bar.
It was from another corner that Hemel did finally equalise. Parkes again provided a good ball into the area that was spooned high up into the air by a Havant defender. It was chipped out wide and fullback Joe Howe raced in unmarked to head goalwards. The ball appeared to cross the line before being cleared but as Howe had met the ball he had been flattened by the onrushing Young, giving the referee no option but to point to the spot.
Up stepped Captain Fantastic Parkes, who was celebrating his 200th game in a Hemel shirt on Saturday, and he sent Young the wrong way to level the scores.
There were a couple of scares as time seemed to drag on and Havant poured forward but another late corner for Hemel almost produced a winner when James Kaloczi met the delivery but, just like Yakubu earlier, he couldn’t keep it down and it went into the stand.
It wasn’t Hemel’s best performance of the season, but under the circumstances a really creditable one, with every player working hard as a unit to grind out a valuable point against a very decent side.
The point leaves the Tudors in fifth place in the National League South standings and kept Havant at bay by a point.
Next up is another upper-tier clash this Saturday, November 18, when Hemel entertain Welling Utd at Vauxhall Road. The Tudors have the same number of points (30) as Welling but Hemel have a game in hand. Saturday’s opponents drew 3-3 with 19th-ranked Concord Rangers at home at the weekend.
Hemel Town v Havant: Laurie Walker, Joe Howe, Kyle Connolly, Jordan Parkes (Callum Driver), Lloyd Doyley, Ismail Yakubu, James Kaloczi, Scott Shulton, Will Hoskins (Alex Osborn), Tom Day (Ebby Nelson-Addy), Spencer McCall,
Subs not used: Matty Spring and Danny Boness.
Mitch’s man of the match: Lloyd Doyley.