Hemel Hempstead Town
After a fantastic Boxing Day win against league leaders Wealdstone at Arbour Park, the Rebels took the short trip up the M25 to Hemel.
Slough made a change up front with Ben Harris being replaced by Dan Roberts, with Harris putting on some goalkeeper gloves in the warmup, which he very nearly had to do again during the match.
The game itself got off to a bad start for Slough, with Mark Nisbet forced off through injury after just three minutes. Scott Davies came on in his place with Sam Togwell dropping into defence.
Hemel were the first to create a meaningful chance, a corner being half cleared before the ball was put back into the back post but a weak header was easily saved by Jack Turner.
A few minutes later Hemel went close to opening the scoring again when Isaac Galliford beat Turner to the ball out wide, but Sam Ashford couldn’t turn in his low cross.
The Rebels got their first sight of goal on eight minutes when a George Wells long range shot was deflected towards goal by Dan Roberts, wrongfooting Sam Beasant but ending up the wrong side of the post. Roberts went close again two minutes later but he couldn’t redirect his header on target from beyond the back post.
On 13 minutes came the game’s major talking point. A long hopeful ball forward was nearly cut out by Lee Togwell. However, his touch only helped Niko Muir catch the ball on the run and one-on-one with Turner, the striker knocked the ball past him before being felled before he could make it into the box. With everyone expecting to see the referee pull out his red card, the Rebels fans sighed a huge breath of relief when he chose the yellow instead.
The game then calmed until the 29th minute when Dan Roberts, who had neatly been played through by Max Worsfold, saw his effort just drift away from the far post and wide.
Hemel then pushed forward and Sam Ashford was given space to get the ball onto his left foot and bend it into the opposite corner to give the hosts the lead.
On 40 minutes Worsfold had a carbon copy chance to Roberts ten minutes earlier and managed to produce the exact same result with the ball brushing the post as it went wide; two great chances which on another day would have gone in.
With Hemel keen to hold onto their lead, they took every chance to wind down the clock until half time. After a break in play for goalkeeper Beasant to receive treatment, Josh Jackman brought the ball down the right before crossing perfectly for Roberts to get to the ball ahead of Beasant and glance it in to level the scores before half time.
The second half kicked off very late and for a long time both teams seemed to still have their heads in the dressing room, with very little happening and numerous mis-hit passes.
It took until the 62nd minute for something to happen. Dan Roberts made himself some space on the edge of the box to strike right-footed onto the post with Beasant beaten.
Hemel responded a few minutes later; following a corner, Galliford hit a shot into a crowd of players before hitting the rebound well over the bar and the stand behind it.
On 77 minutes Slough nearly gifted the Tudors the winner. There was some miscommunication between Sam Togwell and Jack Turner, with Togwell heading the ball back to where he thought his keeper would be - but Jack had come out himself expecting to catch the ball. Only some quick reactions from Turner to kick out a leg to block the ball stopped what would have been a calamitous own goal.
Baker and Underwood, sensing something needed to change, brought on Manny Williams for Matt Lench – and the veteran striker made an immediate impact.
A well-worked throw in gave Williams the ball in the box, he feinted his way past one defender and then the other but his shot was weak, and though Beasant had gone the wrong way he was able to save with his feet. However, the ball bounced up and off Connor Essam towards goal but Beasant was able to save again.
With only a few minutes to go, Slough very nearly got the winner. A free kick was dropped by Beasant in the box and after a scuffle a Slough leg was able to turn it towards goal only for it to be blocked by a Hemel arm. However, the shot came from a yard away and the arm was down by the player’s side, so it would have been harsh to expect a penalty to be awarded.
Overall, although both had chances to win it, they will both be happy to come away with a draw.
Hemel Hempstead Town Lineup
Sam Beasant, Tosan Popo, Freddie Grant, Rob Sinclair (Craig Braham-Barrett HT), Connor Essam, Mitch Dickenson, Isaac Galliford (Jack Midson 80), Jake Howells, Tyrone Sterling, Niko Muir, Sam Ashford (Alex Wall 75). Unused substitutes: Ritchie Whittingham, Danny Boness.