Concord Rangers 0 Hemel Hempstead 3
On a glorious Saturday afternoon Hemel Hempstead were the stronger side at the Aspect Arena writes Chris Clark.
Concord gave two loan signings starts in defence. The returning Jeremy Walker was at right back, and Keaton Wood from Millwall lined up alongside captain Steve King in central defence. Arthur Lee completed the back four. However he was wearing the number 12 shirt. Quite rightly no-one wanted to wear the number 3 shirt after the last two home games.
After three minutes Hemel missed a great opportunity to take the lead. Superb wing play by Jamal Lowe, gave Jamie Slabber a chance to open the scoring. The much travelled striker was six yards out with the goal gaping, but the ball dribbled off his ankle and Ben McNamara in the Concord goal gratefully picked up the ball.
Concord immediately strode down the field and the returning Jeremy Walker linked up with Joe Gardner on the right hand side, reminiscent of last season. Gardner crossed, and there was pinball in the Hemel box, the ball just would not fall for the Concord strikers, and the danger was cleared.
Hemel took the lead after seven minutes, and it all started with the pace of Dennis Oli. He burst down the right hand flank, and pulled his cross back for Jamie Slabber. The striker’s first shot was parried by McNamara, but the ball fell back to the centre forward who tucked it home.
As the sun shone down on the pitch, the pace of the game slowed and chances were certainly at a premium. Concord were proving a threat from set plays with Ben Greenhalgh’s excellent delivery. On 31 minutes a corner found Steve King un-marked who headed towards goal, however his downward header was hacked away.
As the half came to close, Lewis Taaffe suffered a dead leg in a 50/50 challenge. Lewis did not return for the 2nd half, and would be replaced by Tony Stokes.
Concord Rangers 0 Hemel Hempstead 1
Hemel made their intentions clear at the start of the 2nd half, when the central midfielder Harriott bent in a dangerous shot, which just which went wide off the post after 46 minutes. Concord were struggling to get a foothold in the game. Hemel were dominant all over the park. Matt Spring in the centre midfield was showing his experience by retaining possession and always being available for the ball. It was no surprise when Hemel doubled their lead on the hour mark. It was the lively winger Jamal Lowe who again tricked his way to the touchline, his cross fell to Slabber in the penalty box. He steadied himself and bent the ball past the despairing McNamara.
Concord made a change and Steve Cawley was brought on for George Doyle, but the frontman’s introduction did not change the course of the game. Hemel were in control, and Dennis Oli had a great shot tipped over the bar by McNamara on sixty three minutes.
The game was being played in sweltering conditions, and with a two goal lead Hemel took off the goalscorer Slabber. The job had been done by the away side. It was just not Concord’s day, they couldn’t get a foothold in the game.
In time added on, the icing was put on the cake. The lively Oli was brought down by Steve King in the box. The captain Herd stepped up and chipped the penalty home. As cool as you like.
Hemel were clear and deserved winners at the Aspect Arena. It was a bad day at the office for Concord Rangers.
Concord Rangers 0 Hemel Hempstead 3
McNamara, Walker, Lee, King (capt), Wood, Gardner, White, Doyle (off 60mins), Cornhill, Greenhalgh (off 78mins), Taaffe (off 45mins)
Stokes on 45mins
Cawley on 60mins
Brayley on 78mins
Not used – Gough, Fox