The Tudors’ new management duo are now two wins from two after they beat a game Oxford City 2-1 at Vauxhall Road on Saturday.
Hemel nabbed the points but were made to work extremely hard for them. Oxford can consider themselves unfortunate not to have taken something away after they dominated possession for long periods.
It was the second win in as many games for Jordan Parkes and Darren Ward, who took over the reins at the club after former boss Dean Brennan left for high-flying Billericay Town on September 18. The Gazette understands the duo will remain in place for now as the hunt for a permanent successor has been put on hold.
The first-half saw City take the game to Hemel but their final pass let them down. The Tudors were content to attack on the counter and looked dangerous when they did.
The hosts took the lead on 26 minutes when a corner wasn’t dealt with by City. After two blocked shots, the ball finally fell to James Kaloczi on the edge of the box and he fired home past a crowd of players.
Just after the half-hour Hemel went 2-0 up when another break saw Steve Cawley race down the right and with City stretched he crossed to an unmarked Phil Roberts who made no mistake from close range. It was the striker’s fourth goal in three games.
Oxford continued to make chances of their own and Hemel keeper Laurie Walker saved superbly when Zac McEachran was put clean through just before the break, the parried ball was sent across the face of the goal and was eventually cleared off the line with Hemel’s back-line in disarray.
The second period saw Hemel on the back foot as Oxford tried to get back into it.
They seemed quicker to any loose balls and Walker was called into action on several occasions, the in-form keeper keeping his side in front as City pressed forward.
They got the goal they deserved on 68 minutes when McEachran headed home after good work down the right and they missed several chances to equalise before the final whistle blew.
There was a real let-off when Hemel wasted a free-kick and the visitors chased down the clearance, forcing new Hemel skipper Ismail Yakubu into an error when he under-hit a back pass to Walker. Matt Patterson intercepted and had just the keeper to beat but somehow Walker saved his effort. After some desperate defending the ball was eventually cleared to ensure Hemel hung on to the points.
The new management team will no doubt have been more than grateful to Walker for making sure of the points.
At half-time there was a crossbar challenge in aid of guidedogs.org.uk that raised much-needed funds for the charity with Tudors’ fan Suny Munn the only participant to hit the bar and win a bottle of bubbly. The Hemel players contributed £150 to the collection for a very worthy cause.
The win pushed Hemel up to 14th place in the National League South table.
Next up for the Tudors is a FA Cup third qualifying round clash with Isthmian League South East side Ramsgate this Saturday at Vauxhall Road.
Hemel v Oxford City: Laurie Walker, Kavan Cotter, Kyle Connolly, James Kaloczi, Lloyd Doyley, Ismail Yakubu, Alex Osborn (Calaum Martin, 78 mins), Billy Clifford (Jordan Parkes, 67 mins), Steve Cawley, Phil Roberts (Karl Oliyide, 67 mins), Spencer McCall. Subs not used: Tom Hamblin, George Paulin.