Preview: Havant & Waterlooville up next for the in-form Tudors

Jamie Slabber has been on fine form for Hemel this season. Picture (c) Terry Rickeard

Jamie Slabber has been on fine form for Hemel this season. Picture (c) Terry Rickeard

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Hemel Hempstead Town welcome Havant & Waterlooville to Vauxhall Road on Saturday as the Tudors look to build on their promising form over the Christmas period.

The Tudors won 2-0 at Oxford City, before drawing 2-2 at home to Wealdstone on Boxing Day and winning 3-2 at Maidenhead United last Monday – giving them seven points from a possible nine.

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

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

They were looking to continue that good form in the reverse fixture at Wealdstone on Saturday, but the game was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.

Speaking after his side’s training session this morning, Hemel manager Dean Brennan said: “We’ve had a bit of a stop-start season and our performance levels have been a bit inconsistent but we definitely would have taken seven points from our three fixtures over Christmas so that gives us confidence going into Saturday’s game.

“We look forward to every game at this level because each match is a different task with different levels of players. It’s just a brilliant league and we are really enjoying it.”

Hemel’s good form has seen them climb up to 10th place in the National League South table, just six points off the playoff places and with games in hand on all of the sides above them in the standings.

We have to compete, be brave on the ball and brave in possession, and we will play on the front foot with the high tempo that we always do.

Hemel Town FC manager Dean Brennan

The Tudors will fancy their chances of taking all three points against a Havant side that have lost four of their last five league fixtures, but Brennan’s side will need to put an end to the poor home record which blighted the first half of this campaign.

Hemel have won just two of their 10 home games in the league so far this season, while they have triumphed six times on their travels and boast an unbeaten away record.

Saturday looks an ideal opportunity for them to get back on the winning trail in front of their home fans, with relegation-threatened Havant having won only one away game in the league so far this campaign; drawing two and losing the other nine.

However, Brennan is not taking the visitors lightly, insisting that they will offer his side a real test.

“Havant are a very, very good side who got into the playoffs last year,” he said. “They gave us a lesson at their place two seasons ago and, on the night, they were probably the best side we’ve ever played against.

“The boy (Scott) Donnolly, for me, is probably the best midfielder in the league and he has been their talisman of late so we have got to stop him from playing.

“They’ve got other threats all over the pitch, with a lot of Football League experience and big CVs. They have got a lot of quality, and if you stand off them and give them time, they are going to hurt you.

“I know they have had a lot of injuries and for some reason they find themselves down the bottom of the table which I’m shocked at.

“They have a fantastic squad but it just shows you that if you’re not on your game week-in, week-out at this level, you’re not going to win games of football.”

The Tudors will have to make do without the services of Noor Husin and Zak Jules, who have both returned to Reading following loan spells at Vauxhall Road.

Kyle Connolly is suspended on Saturday, but there are no injury concerns, with Ed Asafu-Adjaye ready to return to the starting XI following a long injury lay-off.

Brennan continued: “Ed will have a good chance of starting on Saturday. Obviously it’s a big step for him because he’s been out since last March but he’s a top player at this level and really should be playing in League Two.

“We’ve got to make sure we are on our game from the first minute to the last and make sure that we cut out our individual errors.

“We have to compete, be brave on the ball and brave in possession, and we will play on the front foot with the high tempo that we always do.

“If we do that, I know that we’ll have the Tudor Army right behind us on Saturday and come away with a positive result.”