Another home game with winnable expectations went the way of several other recent contests at the Cygnet Health Care Stadium as the Hertfordshire side returned home with the spoils. The damage was done during a first half in which the visitors built a two goal lead following a dreadful Peacocks’ performance which improved after the break once they had reduced the deficit but not enough to gain a vital point or more in their battle against the unthinkable at the bottom of the table.
Dave Sims-Burgess was missing for the hosts with a hamstring pull while centre halves Nick Grimes and Dan Ball returned to the starting line-up although it was the Tudors who took control from the off and should have grabbed an early lead when Reece Grant outmuscled his opponent down the right and laid the ball across goal for Charlee Hughes who miscued wide of the open target. Hemel’s early dominance continued when Josh Castiglione weaved into the box and fired over before the same player, who had scored Hemel’s goal in the earlier meeting of the sides this season, cut the ball back for Josh Williams who saw his blocked.
The Tudors’ early intent paid off after 14 minutes when Town lost possession in midfield and Kory Roberts’ ball over the top found Hughes who held off the defence too easily to slot past Jack Bycroft for a 1-0 lead. The Peacocks responded with their first attack, Jay Foulston’s cross from the left being glanced wide by the diving Ross Stearn. Momentum remained very much with the visitors though, Hughes making a run inside to test Bycroft with a low strike and recent signing Reece Grant drilling the ball across the face of goal before the hosts found the net, Stearn’s header being disallowed after Nat Jarvis had challenged Hemel keeper Craig King who required treatment and who was impacted throughout the rest of the match with the after-effects.
King’s opposite number Bycroft came to the rescue as Hemel applied some concerted pressure just past the half hour. George Williams’ free kick into the mix fell loose for Grant whose curling effort was turned wide by the Taunton shotstopper. The ensuing corner led to another after Dominic Morgan-Griffiths’ deflected shot and from it the Tudors doubled their lead. A corner from Josh Williams was cleared back to him and his strike goalwards evaded everyone to nestle in the bottom corner after 33 minutes.
Town won two corners as they searched in vain at the Travis Perkins End before Ollie Chamberlain’s cross was met by Stearn, only for King to push his 15 yard strike away, necessitating further treatment for the keeper. Joe Guest delivered a shot into Hamilton Park during four minutes of first half added time before Grant and Hughes linked up well again but took too long to shoot which George Williams eventually did, only to see his effort blocked.
Jake Wannell was replaced by Dylan Morgan for the second half and the Town sub began to inject some much-needed energy into his side. The early part of the half though was in keeping with what had gone before, Hemel on top with George Williams curling a shot just over. A quick break from Hughes following a home free kick saw him feed Grant and when he couldn’t get the better of Bycroft, the follow-up from Josh Williams hit the crossbar.
A double switch ten minutes in saw Nick McCootie and Lloyd James replace Stearn and Lee Lucas as the Tudors kept on the offensive. Bycroft held another strike from Josh Williams and Grant curled a shot over before being denied by a great block from Morgan who had ran the length of the pitch to defend a break after his own shot had hit a defender at the other end. The complexion of the game changed when the Peacocks managed to pull a goal back on 64 minutes. A cross from Jarvis reached McCootie who went down under a challenge from Josh Hill but Morgan ignored the penalty appeals to collect the ball and fire past King to make sure.
The goal visibly lifted the hosts who began to inject some tempo into their play. A misplaced pass allowed Foulston to progress to pass to Morgan who ventured in from the left but was denied by a saving tackle. No corner said referee Ablitt to the astonishment of the home fans in the 718 crowd. Despite plenty more attacking endeavour though Town were unable to create a clear opening, with balls into the box defended well and a tendency to not pull the trigger when they had a chance, all the more frustrating knowing keeper King was impeded by his earlier knock.
Bycroft produced routine saves from a Hughes header and a low strike from Josh Williams, with five minutes of stoppage time failing to conjure up the ending the Town fans were craving. Defeat is another blow to the Peacocks hopes of remaining in the National League but enough spirit was shown during the majority of the second half to put them in good stead for the three treks looming in the next ten days.
Taunton: Jack Bycroft, Jay Foulston, Nick Grimes (captain), Dan Ball, Jake Wannell (Dylan Morgan 45), Ollie Chamberlain, Nat Jarvis, Joe Guest, Ross Stearn (Nick McCootie 54), Cameron Evans, Lee Lucas (Lloyd James 54). Unused subs: Zac Smith, Lloyd Irish
Hemel Hempstead: Craig King, Montel McKenzie, Josh Williams, Kory Roberts, Josh Hill (captain), Kyle O’Connor-Ajayi, George Williams (Jack Westbrook 84), Dominic Morgan-Griffiths, Reece Grant (Nana Owusu 69), Charlee Hughes (Jeremie Mukendi 89), Josh Castiglione. Unused subs: Myles Bright, Luke Holness
Referee: Robert Ablitt (Fareham)
Referee’s Assistant 1: Sean Jenkins (Southampton)
Referee’s Assistant 2: Andrew Glanville (Plymouth)
“We’ve got enough quality, we’ve got enough technical ability but we have to transfer it to 90 minutes…..” watch Rob Dray’s Match Reaction on Peacocks TV HERE
Match Highlights can be seen on Peacocks TV HERE
Mind In Somerset MOM
Nick Grimes receives the Taunton Town Man Of The Match award from Dan Keitch from Match Sponsor AC Mole