Timely Smith strike secures vital Hemel win

Tom Smith struck his first league goal of the season to secure a much-needed comeback win for City against Hemel Hempstead Town at Twerton Park this season. Trailing to an early goal and with the two sides below them in the Vanarama National League South table, Welling United and Billericay Town, both on their way to victories, it was looking like another difficult afternoon for the Romans. However, with 64 minutes gone City were awarded a penalty, which Alex Fletcher emphatically dispatched, and nine minutes later Smith pounced on a loose ball in the six-yard box to complete the turnaround. City began the game in similar fashion to their impressive midweek performance against Slough Town, winning an early corner and seeing a Smith effort fly narrowly wide, but on eight minutes the defence backed off from Mantom’s burst forward and he made them pay with a low shot past Ryan Clarke. It took a while for City to recover from this setback but on the half hour mark Dave Sims-Burgess almost levelled when his lob over keeper King dropped onto the top of the bar. The Tudors struck the frame of the goal four minutes later as well through Scott-Morriss’ well-struck shot. Fletcher was denied by a good block from King with the last chance of the first half but after the interval City struggled to impose themselves on the game, with the visitors looking the more likely to add to the scoring. This changed on 64 minutes though when Fletcher was challenged on the edge of the box by two Hemel defenders. It didn’t look like a clear penalty but, having been on the wrong end of several refereeing decisions in recent games, when the referee pointed to the spot no Romans follower complained, and Fletcher took full advantage from 12 yards. And it got even better for City nine minutes later when Fletcher wriggled free in the box to get a shot away that King could only parry into the path of Smith to gleefully fire home. Fletcher and Joe Raynes saw half chances come and go to increase the lead after this but at the other end of the pitch City stood firm to bring home a very welcome three points.