Hemel Town boss Dean Brennan hailed the impact of sub Daniel Pappoe as the Tudors fought back from 2-0 down to salvage a 2-2 draw against St Albans on Tuesday night.
The draw strengthened Hemel’s grip on the fourth and final playoff spot in the National League South, but they looked to be heading for defeat as St Albans boasted a two-goal lead with 20 minutes to play.
However, Brennan introduced Graeme Montgomery, Harry Hickford and Pappoe from the bench, and the changes had the desired effect as Town battled back with a fine strike from Ibra Sekajja and a 90th minute leveller from Adam Bailey-Dennis.
“It was important we didn’t get beaten,” said Brennan. “I said before the game that it was going to be tough and there is always drama.
“I’m proud of the character we showed; the performance wasn’t great but it doesn’t matter at the end of the day because we have got a point.
“Until we made the substitutions, we were in a bad place. I thought the substitutes came on and made a massive impact; Daniel Pappoe was man of the match for us.
“I know Ibra got the goal, but I thought Pappoe came on and changed the game. If Paps can stay with us, and stay focused on playing football with us, he’ll get himself a move – he’s that good.”
Brennan was full of praise for relegation-threatened St Albans, who have seen a dramatic upturn in results since the appointment of Ian Allinson as manager.
“They have invested heavily, brought in a good manager, and it’s paying off,” he said. “The manager has turned around their fortunes.”
He continued: “They are well-organised, well-drilled and they counter-attacked on us really well.”
Hemel are now a point clear of playoff rivals Maidenhead United and Dartford, and Brennan added: “We’re not going to worry about anyone else, because we’ve shown some character today.
“We haven’t got a recognised centre-forward in the squad, but we are still managing to dig out results and I’m proud of that. The players know the position they are in and their attitude has been spot on.”