Hemel Hempstead Town took another step towards the Calor League Southern Premier Division title last night as they ground out a 1-0 win over a resolute Poole Town side at Vauxhall Road.
The Tudors were made to work hard for the points, but in the end a 25th-minute strike from Luke Allen proved to be the decisive momtent in the match.
The hosts had a number of chances in the first half, with Lewis Toomey denied early on by a decent save from Poole keeper Dan Thomas.
Leading scorer Ben Mackey came close for the Tudors with an effort which went over the bar, while Poole were looking dangerous on the counter-attack.
The deadlock was eventually broken midway through the first half, when man of the match Allen completed a flowing team move by volleying home in spectacular fashion to put the Tudors in front.
There were no further goals before the interval, but Poole came out with renewed vigour in the second half and pushed forward in search of an equaliser.
At times it took some inspired defending from the Hemel back line to keep the visitors at bay, with Kieran Murphy and Shane Blackett in imperious form at the heart of the defence.
Lewis Toomey saw an effort come back off the post at the other end, but it was Poole who looked the most likely to net the next goal – with Tudors keeper Laurie Walker producing a number of crucial stops.
With the action intensifying, the Hemel support reached its vocal best, and the Tudors – inspired by the fans – dug deep to secure the win and move eight points clear at the top.
Next up for Hemel is a home clash with Weymouth at Vauxhall Road on Saturday, 3pm kick-off.