Hemel Town’s difficult run and six-game winless streak continued on Saturday when they went down 2-0 to former League Two and National League Premier side Torquay United at Plainmoor in Devon.
It was a 440-mile round trip for the proverbial game of two halves. The first of which saw the Tudors dominate, create three or four great chances, but fail to score, and the second where Torquay dominated, had three or four great chances, and scored twice, writes Steve Rundle.
The Tudors pressed from the off and after 11 minutes the opportunist striker Steve Cawley spotted Torquay’s keeper off his line and had a pop from 40 yards which a back-peddling Alexander Bass did well to tip over the bar.
Within minutes, the Gulls’ net man was again called upon as a James Kaloczi header was palmed over.
On 19 minutes a glorious chance fell to Cawley, but his close-range effort was somehow scuffed wide.
The visitors continued with their pressure and a Jordan Parkes free-kick was met by an unmarked Herschel Sanchez Watt, but he just couldn’t connect properly as another chance went begging.
Soon after, a defensive slip let Torquay in, but the resulting shot was parried by the Tudors’ stopper Laurie Walker.
Just before the whistle for half-time a free-kick in Parkes’ territory had the travelling fans on their feet, but it wasn’t to be again as the effort flew wide of the near post.
The first period ended goalless but The Tudors could, and perhaps should, have been at least 2-0 up.
After the break a completely different Torquay came to the fore and within a couple of minutes Walker saved well again.
The home side were then going for it, pegging Hemel back, and their fans even started to make some noise.
On the hour the Gulls had the best chance of the game to that point, but their close-range shot was brilliantly saved - again - by player-of-the-season so far Walker.
The Tudors then had a rare second-half foray on goal when Cawley cut it back for substitute Karl Oliyide, but he got under the ball and blasted it over the bar from about 12 yards.
Torquay kept up the pressure, though, and after 76 minutes Jamie Reid was sent through and fired an unstoppable shot under Walker to put the hosts ahead.
Hemel did have a chance to equalise soon after when a Walker clearance was well-controlled by Cawley, but his chip bounced off the roof of the net.
With seven minutes to go Torquay killed the game off, after a corner wasn’t defended at all and Asa Hall rose unmarked to head home for a 2-0 lead.
Let’s hope that the recent departure of striker Charlie Sheringham frees up some cash to get a proven striker in, and the rumour is that Hemel are shopping at time of writing.
On Friday, it was announced that Sheringham was returning to his previous club Dartford.
It was a shame about Saturday’s result, particularly following the first-half performance, but a fantastic day was certainly had by the travelling Tudors’ fans. A pre-match drink was enjoyed while overlooking Babbacombe bay, followed by dinner at an award-winning fish and chip shop (which was worth the journey alone) and, as usual, there was some great company among the Hemel contingent.
Next up, the circus that is big-spending Billericay Town arrives at Vauxhall Road this Saturday. Billericay are in second place in the league but lost for the second time this term, 2-1 at Woking, over the weekend.
After their first loss the previous week against Chippenham Town, boss Harry Wheeler was sacked by owner Glenn Tamplin despite having previously won four games out of their opening five fixtures in the National League South.
Hemel v Torquay: Laurie Walker, Calaum Jahraldo-Martin, Kyle Connolly, Jordan Parkes (captain), Darren Ward, Tom Hamblin, James Kaloczi, Billy Clifford, Steve Cawley, Herschel Sanchez Watt, Spencer McCall. Suns: Karl Oliyide came on as a substitute. Alex Osborn, Reece Prestedge, Joe Howe and George Paulin were also on the bench, but neither Torquay or the National League documented which Hemel subs came on or not.