Hemel Town just edged a tight league encounter 2-1 against Gloucester City in difficult conditions at Vauxhall Road on Saturday.
Both sides should be applauded for their efforts in torrential rain throughout.
City, in 18th place in the league table before this encounter, had an excellent chance early on when Joe Parker slid in unmarked after a quick counter attack, but Tudors’ keeper Laurie Walker somehow blocked his shot from close range.
Hemel took the lead after 13 minutes when debutant Rob Sinclair was superbly played in by Steve Cawley. Sinclair raced into the box, outpacing the Tigers backline, before tucking the ball into the corner.
Walker then had to be on his toes after another counter caused Hemel problems, the in-form keeper closed the City attacker down well and blocked the effort with his body.
Tudors’ skipper Jordan Parkes almost caught City stopper Adam Przybek off his line when he fired in a shot from just inside the Gloucester half, but the Tigers’ keeper was relieved to see it clear the bar as he desperately back-peddled.
Just before the half-time break, Przybek was almost embarrassed again when Walker’s long punt downfield skidded of the wet turf and bounced over his head, just shaving the post.
The second period was much the same, with City enjoying periods of possession but Hemel looking dangerous on the counter.
The hosts then went 2-0 up on 57 minutes when a superb break and cross from the left by Kyle Connolly was glanced in by Cawley. From there on, Hemel looked in control.
The Tigers did get a consolation goal in the 90th minute when a Joe Hanks free-kick swerved in the wind and deceived Walker, the Hemel custodian managed to get a block on the ball but it rebounded over the line.
In the end, it was a deserved three points for the Tudors and that’s now three games unbeaten for new manager Joe Deeney, who is getting his new side to play with a bit more tempo, which is paying dividends.
Today’s man of the match Cawley is certainly seeing the benefit of the smarter work-rate as his hold-up play is superb and it has allowed him to find players more quickly to create openings.
The first goal was a good example of this, when he played a perfect pass into the stride of the on-rushing Sinclair, who never stopped running and had an excellent debut, endearing himself to the Tudors faithful with his hard work and striking looks.
Such is the nature of this tight league, the victory moved Hemel up five places to ninth spot in the National League South standings and just a point outside the playoff places.
Next up for the Tudors is a derby clash with sixth-placed Wealdstone at Vauxhall Road on Tuesday night, where a big crowd is expected.
They then visit bottom-but-one side East Thurrock United next Saturday, November 17.
Hemel v Gloucester: Laurie Walker, Lloyd Doyley (Sydney Ibie), Joe Howe, Jordan Parkes (captain), Darren Ward, Ismail Yakubu, Sam Murphy (Matteo Mendy), Kavan Cotter, Steve Cawley, Rob Sinclair, James Kaloczi (Kyle Connolly). Subs not used: Ollie Swain, George Paulin.
Mitch’s man of the match: Steve Cawley.