Judgement day for the Tudors in playoff showdown with Whitehawk

It's win or bust for Hemel on Saturday. Picture (c) Terry Rickeard
It's win or bust for Hemel on Saturday. Picture (c) Terry Rickeard

Hemel Town know that only a win will be good enough as they prepare to face Whitehawk in a playoff shootout at Vauxhall Road on Saturday.

Whitehawk’s draw at Truro City on Tuesday saw them leapfrog Hemel in the National League South table on goal difference – meaning Saturday’s game is now a must-win encounter for the Tudors.

Hemel Hempstead Town FC manager Dean Brennan. Picture (c) Terry Rickeard

Hemel Hempstead Town FC manager Dean Brennan. Picture (c) Terry Rickeard

It is a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for Whitehawk, who were as low as 15th in the table at the start of this month – albeit with games in hand on the sides above them.

Missing out on the playoffs would be a big blow for Hemel, with a 4-3 loss at struggling Margate at the weekend starting to look costly.

The Tudors will be slight underdogs against an in-form Whitehawk side, but know that their destiny is still in their own hands.

Looking ahead to the game, Tudors boss Dean Brennan said: “We’ve got to win the game, it’s an unbelievable opportunity for everybody at the football club. It’s so exciting, for us and for them.

We’ve got to win the game, it’s an unbelievable opportunity for everybody at the football club.

Hemel Town FC manager Dean Brennan

“With the restraints we have had with injuries ever since day one, we have done a good job so far this season but we have got to go on and finish the job now.

“Whitehawk are a great side and they have some fantastic players who have done unbelievably well over the last month to win five of their last six games and pick up the points they have.

“I said a few weeks ago that I thought Whitehak would be in the hunt for the playoffs and I have been proved right.

“They are a good side and we are going to have to be right at our best, show that hunger, show that desire and fight for everything. The harder we work, the luckier we will get and hopefully the breaks will go our way on the day.

“It’s essentially a playoff quarter-final for both teams, and our players have got to go out there and manage the game on the pitch. We have got to stick to the gameplan which we have been working on since Tuesday, stay nice and solid defensively, and take our chances when they come our way.

“We know they are going to have chances because they are a very creative side and technically they are the best side in the division. Really they should be in a title race with the players they’ve got.

“We’ve got to stop them playing, we’ve got to get right up in their faces and we’ve got to run all over them because they can pick you off with their ability.

“They are a cup side, so everyone is going to have to be at their best, but we are really looking forward to it. It’s a great platform for the lads to go out there and show that they are good players.

“We’ve given ourselves a chance and we will see whether we can take it or not.”

Hemel will be boosted by the return of centre-forward Jamie Slabber who has been recalled from his loan to title winning Sutton United, while James Potton, Adam Bailey-Dennis, Jamie Butler and Morgan Ferrier should all be back in contention after shaking off injuries.

> Admission to the Whitehawk game will be free for U16s and just £1 for 16 and 17-year-olds thanks to Underwoods Solicitors subsidising admission fees for these age groups.

All that youngsters need do is turn up for the match – no ID or proof of age necessary.