20th January 2024

The Glovers got one back over the Tudors after the opening-day defeat with a dominant 2-0 victory at Huish Park. New signing Sam Pearson starred as he netted the only two goals of the game on his debut after signing on Thursday.

The game got off to a fairly slow start in the opening stages, but on 12 minutes, Craig King had to be on high alert following a quick corner, which saw Jordan Young drive into the box from the right, but his low cross was smothered by King.

After that, the attacks didn’t stop coming for the Glovers. Charlie Cooper intercepted a clearance from King before threading it into the path of Jordan Young, who managed to get a shot away but it was well blocked. The resulting corner was again played short; this time the ball fell to the feet of Sam Pearson, who turned and got a shot on goal, but it was collected by Craig King, who was settling in for a busy afternoon.

Sam Pearson caused problems again on 21 minutes as he latched onto a through ball and brought it into the area before shooting from a tight angle, but Kyle O’Connor-Ajayi did well to get back and put his foot in the way of the goalbound effort.

On 29 minutes, Sam Pearson finally got his debut goal. A corner was cleared but only as far as Charlie Cooper who lofted it perfectly towards Pearson, who, with an acrobatic effort, managed to find the bottom corner.

Moments later, the Glovers almost had a second. A corner from the same side was instead whipped into the six-yard area where Frank Nouble managed to flick it towards goal, but it flew just over the bar.

As the half drew towards a close, Hemel had their best chance. Chris Smith had a low effort well saved by Joe Day, sparking a counter-attack that saw Jordan Young break with pace before being chopped down by Josh Williams, who received a yellow card.

Just before the halftime whistle, there was one more chance for the Glovers. Jake Wannell rose highest at the back post following a Jordan Young corner in additional time, but his header fell wide of Craig King’s goal.

The second half saw Hemel have another good chance early on. Tre Mitford had a low effort at goal, which was denied by Joe Day.

On 56 minutes, Jordan Young broke through the defense after some fantastic passing play and tried to square it to Sam Pearson, but Kyle O’Connor-Ajayi again got back to make an identical block to one he made in the first half.

On the hour mark, Sonny Blu Lo-Everton had two chances in quick succession to double the Glovers’ lead. Both chances saw Lo-Everton strike low towards goal, but Craig King was alert to deny both of them. Minutes later, Michael Smith had an effort at goal from range, but it was no problem for King as it flew into the Thatchers Terrace.

Kombe Kawimbe was lucky to stay on the pitch after flying into a challenge on Charlie Cooper. He received a yellow card, and thankfully, Cooper was not injured from the tackle.

On 68 minutes, Sam Pearson made his debut even more memorable as he netted his second of the afternoon. Charlie Cooper again played a clinical role as the Glovers charged forward before the ball dropped in the area to Sam Pearson, who drilled it into the net with the help of a deflection off a Hemel defender.

Before he could finish celebrating, the board was up, and Mark Cooper made his first change of the afternoon, which saw the debutant replaced by Jake Hyde. Soon after, he made his second switch with Jordan Young being replaced by Jay Foulston.

It was Jake Hyde who had the best chance of the Glovers finding a third of the afternoon. He managed to sneak in front of his man following a free kick and headed towards goal, but somehow Craig King scrambled the ball onto the crossbar before it was cleared by a Hemel defender.

The final change for the Glovers, as the game drew towards its conclusion, saw Dylan Morgan come on for Charlie Cooper, who was struggling after a few heavy challenges aimed in his direction.

The five additional minutes, which were indicated by the official, were dominated by corners for Hemel, which saw Craig King join the action in the opposing area. Despite the Glovers dealing with everything thrown at them, they were unable to add a third goal.

As the referee blew for full time, this marked the Glovers’ fifth consecutive win and saw them maintain their 13-point lead at the top of the table with some of the chasing pack dropping points.