Match Report by Nick DuGard: Monday, 4 April 2016: National League South:
Wealdstone 0 Hemel Hempstead Town 0
Wealdstone found themselves pitted against a strong, physical and pacy Hemel Hempstead Town side on Monday evening, but an equally powerful and never-say-die defensive performance saw Stones gain the point that will probably keep them in Vanarama National League South for another season.
This match, at last, had a real ‘derby’ feel to it, particularly in the second period with the atmosphere inside The Vale as boisterous as it has been for some time with the 753 crowd being kept on their toes for most of the proceedings. Several over physical challenges from the visitors in the first period raised the temperature somewhat but fortunately matters didn’t boil over to extent of red cards being brandished.
Both sides had chances to win the game with the away side having more chances on goal but either side could have nicked all the points in the final minutes of a tense contest. But with Jonathan North looking back to his best it would have taken something special to have beaten the former Watford gloveman.
Stones made several changes for this match with Saturday’s exertions having taken its toll – Bradley Hudson-Odoi, Scott McGleish and Dale Binns were all out injured. In came Jack Smith; James Demetriou and Nathan Mavila started.
There were new faces on the bench with squad players Luca Losi (AC Pisa) and Mpania Kalenga (GV OVV – Holland) included.
The first period drew a midfield stalemate but Hemel’s pace on the counter caused real concern with Ibra Sekajja and Morgan Ferrier needing close policing from Stones solid and determined backline.
Stones struggled to deliver accurately to their front men with Jefferson Louis and James Demetriou feeding off scant supply from the midfield.
Matters livened up considerably in the final ten minutes of the half as Stones finally looked threatening. Hemel’s keeper Jamie Butler somehow saved a certain goal with his knee from a vicious strike from Elliott Godfrey. Then Demetriou laid the ball back to Johnny Wright but from a great central position he blazed over.
Then North saved brilliantly at the near post to deny former Stone Graeme Montgomery.
The noise from Stones fans ramped up massively in the second half as the away support realised why the home support appeared muted in the first. You can only make noise at one end!!
Jack Smith cleared off the line a minute in as The Tudors ramped up the pressure early in the second period. Sekajja again used his blistering pace to good effort but seemed unable to find sufficient composure to open his account
Hemel had a goal chalked off mid half – apparently for an impediment on North.
Stones brought on all three subs but try as they might down the slope they couldn’t unlock a resolute defence, needing to find some elusive control and magic up front.
North had the last word with another superb save with seconds remaining.
Wealdstone: North, Urquhart, Smith, Parker, Hamblin, Godfrey, Wright, Demetriou (Sub: Morgan 90), Louis (Sub: Lucien 72), Davies, Mavila (Sub: Losi 90), Not used: Cadmore, Kalenga.
Yellow Cards: Parker 26, Davies 85
MoM: Nathan Mavila