Hemel Hempstead Town drew for just the second time this season when they had to setle for a share of the spoils with Eastbourne Borough at the weekend.
Eastbourne, in 16th place going into Saturday’s game at Vauxhall Road, were happy to come away with a point after a troubled week which saw them launch a financial appeal and major re-structuring both on and off the field.
Hosts Hemel, who extended their unbeaten league run to six games, felt it was two points dropped after dominating long periods of the game, writes Gazette match-day reporter Allan Mitchell.
In appalling conditions throughout at Vauxhall Road, both sides struggled to keep the ball but it was the Tudors who created the better chances in the first period.
With the wind glowing a gale behind them, Hemel often found passes drifting away down the slope, but they still continued to work hard.
Recent Hemel signing Adam Cunnington saw a header fly over the bar when Jack Midson looked to be well-placed just behind him.
Tudors’ skipper Connor Essam also put a header over the bar and Liam Nash had a good chance after excellent work by striker Sam Ashford, but unfortunately the ball arrived onto his weaker right foot. He hit it first-time with the outside of his left, but couldn’t quite get the required curl and it went wide of the post.
The Sports offered little up front and their only chance of the first-half came late on when Nick Wheeler found some space on the edge of the box but blasted his shot high and wide.
Hemel did have the ball in the back of the net on 35 minutes but it was disallowed when the referee’s assistant spotted an infringement.
The home side came out of the traps with some intention after the break, with Tudors’ boss Sammy Moore admitting that some harsh words were exchanged in the dressing room at half-time.
It seemed to do the trick as Hemel took the lead just three minutes after the break following good build-up play by Craig Braham-Barrett and Jack Midson.
Midson kept his cool from just inside the box, opting to set up Nash rather than shoot himself and the latter made no mistake, striking the ball again from the outside of his left foot. This time it evaded Borough keeper Tom Hadler and went into the bottom corner of the net for Nash’s ninth goal of the season in all competitions.
Cunnington then had three chances to increase the Tudors’ lead. He first saw his shot go across the face of goal, just evading Ashford’s outstretched foot.
He then had a header blocked on the line by what looked like one of his own team-mates, the ball eventually getting cleared.
And from the resulting corner, his near-post flick header just grazed past the post.
With the home fans just waiting for the floodgates to open, Borough scored, very much against the run of play.
Hemel were on the attack and were caught out by a quick breakaway down the right, which left them short of numbers.
Greg Luer raced away and cut inside the back-tracking Tyrone Sterling, before tucking the ball under Tudors’ stopper Danny Boness.
It was their first attempt on target and a stark reminder of what can happen if you don’t take your chances in this league.
After this, Eastbourne’s confidence increased and with Hemel going for the win, both sides had chances as the game opened up.
The Tudors faithful were starting to worry that The Sports might even nick the points, but in the end it was honours even as the conditions worsened.
Manager Moore felt his side gave everything and on another day would have won the game comfortably, but the second goal eluded them and a lapse in concentration allowed Eastbourne back into the game.
He was pleased to keep the unbeaten run going and will be looking to get back on track against his former club, Concord Rangers, who Hemel visit this Saturday.
After the game, Tudors’ boss Sammy Moore said on Twitter: “One more point towards our target.
“Disappointing to not get all three, but you can’t win them all.”
Hemel remain in second place in the National league South table after the draw, but third-ranked Havant & Waterlooville cut the deficit to three points after they beat Concord 2-1 at home over the weekend.
This Saturday’s opponents Concord are in 14th place in the standings and have lost six of their last seven outings, including five straight defeats in the league.
Hemel v Borough: Danny Boness, Tosan Popo, Craig Braham- Barrett (Ricardo German), Tyrone Sterling, Connor Essam (captain), Mitch Dickenson, Liam Nash, Jake Howells, Adam Cunnington (Alex Wall), Jack Midson (Munashe Sundire), Sam Ashford. Subs not used: Jacques Kpohomouh, Sam Beasant.
Tudors’ man of the match: Mitch Dickenson.