Arlesey Town 3 Hemel Hempstead Town 1
Table topping Hemel Town suffered a disappointing defeat at in-form Arlesey on Saturday as their lead at the top of the division was cut to just one point.
Hemel have been leading the way in the Evo Stik League Southern Premier Division for the majority of the season, but the chasing pack are now hot on their heels – with second-placed Leamington boasting four games in hand.
Saturday’s defeat to Arlesey maintains Hemel’s poor run of away form, with the Tudors winless on the road since November.
Things could have been so different for Hemel on Saturday, however, had they made the most of a quick-fire start.
With only a few minutes played, Charlie Mpi found Matt Nolan, and the Hemel man looped an exquisite effort over Arlesey keeper Nathan Abbey into the net.
It did not take the hosts long to restore parity, though, and they were back on level terms within five minutes.
Drew Roberts was brought down in the area, and the Arlesey talisman dusted himself off to slam home the resulting penalty.
Clearly buoyed by the goal, the home side pressed for the lead and Roberts clipped the bar with a rasping shot, before the forward’s appeals for a penalty were waved away following a collision with Hemel keeper Sam Beagle.
Mpi came close to restoring the Hemel lead at the start of the second half, but the forward saw his effort cleared agonisingly off the line.
The Tudors were now in the ascendancy, but it was Arlesey who took the lead from their second penalty kick of the afternoon.
Phil Anderson was harshly adjudged to have handled the ball in the area, and Roberts tucked away his second spot-kick.
Hemel had a glorious chance to level things up midway through the half, but captain Steve O’Leary squandered the opportunity.
Mpi was tripped when through on goal, giving the penalty-happy referee another chance to point to the spot, but O’Leary saw his effort strike the post.
From then on it was clear it was not going to be Hemel’s day, and Chris Dillon added a third for Arlesey late on to seal the win for the hosts.