Hawks flying high as Hemel Town see off Hayes & Yeading to stay in the hunt

Oliver Hawkins netted a brace for Hemel
Oliver Hawkins netted a brace for Hemel

Hemel Hempstead Town striker Oliver Hawkins bagged a brace as the Tudors kept their Conference South playoff hopes alive with a convincing 4-2 win over struggling Hayes & Yeading.

Hemel fell behind early on as George McLennan put the hosts in front, but the Tudors took a 2-1 lead in at half-time as Zane Banton and skipper Jordan Parkes both found the net in quick succession.

Hawkins then added to his impressive goal tally with two goals after the break, either side of a second Hayes & Yeading goal from debutante Robbie Matthews.

Hemel made a bright start to the game, with Hawkins seeing an effort blocked and Parkes curling a shot just wide as the visitors searched for the opening goal.

Hayes began to get back into the game, though, and they were almost gifted a goal by Hemel keeper Laurie Walker who scuffed a clearance straight to Luke Williams on the edge of the area but scampered back to save the forward’s effort.

It was not long before the hosts did get their noses in front, however, as Elliot Benyon did well on the right and crossed for strike partner McLennan to fire clinically past Walker at the near post.

Hemel’s response was emphatic, though, and they soon turned the game on its head. First, Hawkins produced a fine save from Hayes keeper Grant Smith, and Zane Banton fired home from close range from the resulting corner to restore parity.

And the Tudors went in front in the 19th minute as Banton was brought down on the right hand corner of the penalty box, allowing captain marvel Parkes to step up and expertly curl another trademark free-kick into the top corner.

The game settled down somewhat following the frantic opening 20 minutes, but Hayes could have got back on level terms through Benyon who fired high and wide when well placed in front of goal in the 38th minute.

The home side replaced Emmanuel Monthe with Dominic Green at half-time, but it took Hemel just two minutes to extend their lead after the interval as Dennis Oli’s header was tipped onto the bar by Hayes keeper Grant Smith, with Hawkins racing in to poke home the rebound for 3-1.

The Tudors should have increased their advantage on the hour mark when Hawkins outmuscled Christian Smith to get on the end of a long ball forward from Oli, but the big striker could only manage to blast the over the bar.

Hemel looked to be cruising to victory, but it was game on in the 70th minute when Hayes substitute Rhys Murrell-Williamson fired in a ball from the left which bounced over Walker and gave fellow sub Matthews a tap-in on his debut.

However, Hemel soon dashed any hopes of a Hayes comeback as they regained their two-goal cushion with 15 minutes remaining. Oli got to the byline and cut the ball back to substitute James Potton who unselfishly squared for Hawkins to tap in at the far post for 4-2.

There were a couple of half chances at each end as the game reached its conclusion, but Hemel held on comfortably to return home with a valuable three points.

Hayes & Yeading: G Smith; Fenlon, Monthe (Green), Ferrell (Matthews), S Smith; Inman, Morgan (Murrell-Williamson), Everitt; Benyon, Williams, McLennan. Subs not used - Thomson-Wheeler and Kitscha.

Hemel Hempstead Town: Walker; Asafu-Adjaye, Lee, Oshodi, Hyam; Parkes, Marriott (Simmonds), Allen; Banton (Potton), Oli, Hawkins (Kabamba). Subs not used - Johnson, Head.

261 attendance