The National League South season has begun, and fr*stratingly it was more of the same from Yeovil Town as the Glovers shot themselves in the foot to lose 1-0. Here are Ian’s conclusions from the press box at Hemel Hempstead…

That was a bump back to reality. We know this already, but all the optimism, hope and goodwill in the world will not win football matches. We came into kick off riding the crest of a wave but by the time we final whistle was blown, we’d suffered a wipeout. This isn’t going to be an easy season and we aren’t going to steamroll teams. We were told Hemel were well organised and had a good team spirit and they showed that in spades, and got a bit of luck for their winner after a mix up between Zac Bell and Will Buse.

We really struggled to maintain meaningful possession. It was a really bitty game. Most of our chances came from set pieces, or the aftermath of set pieces. Rhys Murphy had a couple of efforts that he should have done better with in the first half. Hemel Hempstead executed a brilliant game plan, disrupting the flow of the game and taking their time on the restarts. Their narrow midfield really crowded the centre of the pitch and I felt we struggled to get the ball through Matt Worthing and Charlie Cooper because of that.

Jake Wannell
Jake Wannell – Image courtesy of Dan Finill

Jake Wannell had a solid game. The left-sided centre back had a dominant display, winning his defensive headers and tackling aggressively. He was composed on the ball and I thought his partnership with Alex Whittle on the left looked promising. I think our defensive unit looked pretty steady, but for a couple of slips on the surface. As regular readers will know, I did not enjoy wingbacks last season, but we seem to have more suitable players this season.

“We’re going to have to find a way to adapt to and get results when we travel to clubs with them.”

I’m not sure if that was a good artificial pitch or not, but I didn’t like it. It didn’t seem like a very even surface and the way Hemel played in that second half was as if they were shooting downhill. The familiarity the Hemel players had with the pitch compared to ours was plain to see, our passing wasn’t quite there and I didn’t think we looked comfortable on it. We’re going to have to find a way to adapt to it though and get results when we travel to clubs with them.

We need to keep calm. The expectation following a rejuvenating summer has, perhaps, given us an over-expectancy. Don’t get me wrong, we should be putting teams like Hemel away given the quality of our squad, but there was 45 more matches in this season and 135 points to play for. The goal came from a sloppy error at the back rather than Yeovil’s goal coming under regular heavy pressure. Mark Cooper described the result as a ‘slap round the face’, Frank Nouble said it as a ‘wake up call’. Our big day out was spoiled by a team and manager who knows how to get a result in National League South. Next weekend St Albans City (off the back of a 2-1 win over W*ymouth) come to Huish Park and we’ll need to lay down a marker of how good we are with our home performance. 

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Dan B
8 months ago

Agree with all of this. Wannell looked very good, the wing-backs looked decent on the ball. 0-0 would have been a fair result. But could be a good wake-up call for all of us, this is going to be a tough season. Thoroughly enjoyable day out though – great to see so many fans out in force, and it was nice of the new owner to join us behind the goal, buying drinks for fans. One small complaint I have is with the behaviour of some of our fans towards the end of the game. Throwing things on the pitch, shouting vitriolic abuse at the goalkeeper at the end (I was stood next to one guy with a burberry scarf covering his face for reasons known only to him, screaming horrendously at anyone and everyone) – as a club we need to stamp this sort of behaviour out, it reflects terribly on the rest of us. It would have been nice to hear/see more than one or two of us calling out this behaviour in the moment.

Archie Morris
8 months ago
Reply to  Dan B

Absolutely agree – there was more genuine bad behaviour (as opposed to just silly football behaviour) on show than I’ve seen for quite a while. Can definitely see future match interruptions/suspensions if the trend continues.

8 months ago

Hemel are a solid side St Albans even better .. it’s one of those leagues that everyone can beat each other ,, the teams are full of x academy players

8 months ago

st albans beat weymouth 2-1 so can see yous getting battered 2 in a row for yous whilst terras go up ?