Beavers held at Hemel despite dominant display
Craig Dundas’s second half strike gave Hampton and Richmond a share of the spoils at Vauxhall Road, but the Beavers dominated long periods of the game and were unlucky not to return to the Beveree with all three points.
By Peter White
Gary McCann made just one change to the team that overcame Dulwich Hamlet 2-0 in the Beavers’s previous league game - Zak Joseph coming in for Chris Dickson who was suffering with a minor hamstring strain.
The Beavers started on the front foot and the first chance fell to Nana Kyei, who won the first corner of the game in the third minute.
Hampton saw a lot of the ball in the opening 10 minutes, without carving out any real chances. There was the occasional reminder of the threats posed by the hosts, although the Beavers controlled the majority of play in the opening moments.
Tyrell Miller-Rodney forced Laurie Walker into his first save of the game in the 16th minute after some neat link-up play with Matty Whichelow, with the Beavers looking to stamp their authority on the match.
At the other end, the Beavers defence had looked solid for the first quarter of the tie with star man Sanchez Watt kept largely anonymous, but they were caught asleep in the 26th minute as Hemel Hempstead took the lead against the run of play.
Rob Sinclair lifted a ball over to Jordan Parkes who was left in acres of space on the left flank. The Tudors skipper took a touch and smashed an impressive volley across Tom Lovelock’s goal to make it 1-0 to the hosts.
The Beavers retained the majority of possession after the goal and Miller-Rodney continued to enjoy space down the right hand side without an end product.
Joseph – filling the striker’s role in the absence of Dickson – was seeing plenty of the ball, but the physicality of Hemel’s experienced backline was proving tough to break through.
As the game drifted towards half-time, the game opened up and some strong tackles were exchanged as both sides looked to go into the break with some momentum.
Referee Jack Packman soon called a halt to the first period and the Beavers left the field one goal behind, despite being on top for much of the half.
Hampton made one change at half-time, with top scorer Chris Dickson coming on to add a bit of beef in attack after Oliver Sprague had endured a knock at the end of the first half.
The second half started much like the first had finished – both sides having promising moments but unable to fully grab a foothold of the game.
Lovelock held a fizzing shot from Parkes in the 55th minute, while Whichelow fired an attempt high and wide for the Beavers two minutes later.
Dickson recorded his first shot on target on the hour mark, and then moments later almost set up Kyei at the back post following a Beavers counter attack; his cross just too heavy.
But Hampton were reminded of the home side’s qualities as a bit of trickery from Watt set up substitute Steve Cawley one-on-one with Lovelock. The Beavers keeper did just enough to snuff out the danger.
Pressure mounted on the home defence and the introduction of Ryan Hill helped the away side regain control of the game.
And the pressure finally told in the 75th minute when the Beavers equalised through Craig Dundas. The Hampton midfielder picked up the ball on the edge on the area and his fizzing strike slipped just beyond the reach of Walker to bring the away side deservedly level.
The Beavers were now in full control of the game and pressing for the winner. Dickson had the ball in the net eight minutes from time but it was disallowed after he was adjudged to have come from an offside position.
Frustrations among the Hampton camp were clear to see and manager McCann was sent to the stands in the closing stages following a disagreement with the referee.
Despite constant pressure from the Beavers, the Tudors defence held on to claim a share of the spoils.
While the team will feel that they should have gone back to the Beveree with all three points, the way in which they dominated the majority of the game will surely encourage McCann and his staff ahead of their next game at home to St Albans on January 26.
Manager, Gary McCann:
"I thought we dominated for long periods. We really took the game to them and you would say that we deserved to win.
"It's another game unbeaten, it's a game that we maybe deserved more than a point from and it's something to take into a working week with St Albans in mind. The players selected today have done the club proud."
Goalscorer, Craig Dundas:
"I think it was one of our better games in recent weeks. We penned them in, particularly second half. That’s a win and a draw on the trot in the league now and hopefully we can kick on.”