A missed penalty late in the game from the hosts ensured Hemel Town preserved their clean sheet and came away with a point at Dartford today (Saturday).
Before the game, most Tudors fans would have taken a point from Princes Park, a ground where they have yet to win and have had very little luck in previous encounters.
But after dominating the first-half they ended up with mixed emotions, especially after that Dartford missed a penalty in the 80th minute.
The Tudors looked the better side for long periods in the first period and should really have gone in at the break at least two goals to the good.
It was only some good goalkeeping and some wayward finishing that saw the sides leave the field level.
Striker Steve Cawley had Hemel’s first decent chance after just three minutes but his first-time shot lacked power and Deren Ibrahim saved easily.
On 15 minutes, a brilliant passing move saw last weekend’s two-goal hero Karl Oliyide with space in the box and he looked to have curled his shot past Ibrahim but the Gibraltarian number one just got his hand to the effort and it flew agonisingly past the far post. From the resulting corner James Kaloczi headed goalwards but it was straight at the keeper and he once again saved well.
The Darts had a short period of domination coming up to the break but created little to worry Tudors’s net man Laurie Walker and, indeed, Oliyide should have broken the deadlock when he raced clear in the 42nd minute. He waited for Ibrahim to close him down before tucking the ball past the onrushing keeper, only to see it fly past the far post.
The second-half was much more even but Hemel still had the better of the chances. A Jordan Parkes free-kick was missed by everyone and flew across the face of goal to be met by a somewhat surprised Ismail Yakubu and the defender completely miscued his shot and it went high and wide with the goal gaping.
Reece Prestedge saw a speculative effort from the edge of the box go past the post with Ibrahim beaten and minutes later, a Parkes corner was pushed away by the Dartford custodian from right under his own crossbar.
Another Parkes corner was met by Herschel Sanchez Watt but he just couldn’t keep his header down. From the goal kick Hemel’s day looked to have taken a familiar turn for the worse when Karl Connolly was adjudged to have handled in the box when a cross was fired at him from close range after a quick Darts counter.
With ten minutes left it looked as though the Tudors were heading back to Hertfordshire with nothing to show for their efforts but Jamie Philpot completely misread the script, blasting his penalty into the roof of the stand, much to the dismay of the home support.
It would have been tough on the visitors to lose in such a manner, so maybe justice was done.
There was still time for Dartford to bring the best out of Walker when Philpot almost redeemed himself from near-in but the Hemel keeper closed him down and blocked his effort.
Up the other end, skipper Parkes fired in from the edge of the box but it cleared the bar without troubling Ibrahim and the referee called an end to proceedings.
In the end a point keeps Hemel’s unbeaten start to the season intact and the Tudor Army left both frustrated – and relieved – at the outcome.
After three games, Hemel are in third place in the National League South table. Next up is another league clash, when the Tudors host winless and bottom-but-one side Hungerford Town at Vauxhall Road on Tuesday night. They were thumped 6-0 at home to Chelmsford City today.
Hemel then entertain Woking in an exciting test next Saturday, August 18.
Hemel v Dartford: Laurie Walker, Lloyd Doyley (Joe Howe), Kyle Connolly, Jordan Parkes (captain), Darren Ward, Ismail Yakubu, Hershez Sanchez Watt, James Kaloczi (Spencer McCall), Karl Oliyide (Alex Osborn), Steve Cawley, Reece Prestedge. Subs not used: Connor Dymond, George Paulin.
Attendance: 974 (visitors: 50).
Mitch’s Man of the Match: Ismail Yakubu.