|Competition:||Isthmian League Premier Division|
|Date:||Saturday 22 October 2016|
Hendon came away from their first visit to Sussex of the week with three valuable points in their bid to move away from the foot of the table following a crucial 2-1 victory over Worthing who had comprehensively beaten the Greens on the opening day of the season.
There were again a number of changes from the midweek county cup struggle against Wembley. In goal, loan signing from Reading Billy Collings replaced Berkeley Laurencin; Chris Seeby, Arthur Lee and Casey Maclaren returned to the back four whilst Spencer McCall and Niko Muir also returned. Sam Murphy and Keagan Cole were rewarded for their bright efforts in midweek with starting berths and Omar Vassell kept his place, albeit as a right winger instead of full-back.
As they had done in midweek, the Greens began on the front foot on Worthing's 3G surface. Less than 30 seconds had elapsed before McCall and Vassell had combined well to set up Muir inside the penalty area, however the centre forward's low drive went just wide of the far post. This time, unlike the sluggish performance against Wembley, the Greens maintained the intensity.
After Omar Bugiel had headed a Sam Rents cross agonisingly wide of Collings' left hand upright, the remainder of the half belonged to the Greens. Their passing was crisp and precise, off the ball they were compact and organised. Before ten minutes had elapsed, Keagan Cole had been unable to keep a header from Omar Vassell's cross down and Sam Murphy - thriving in a wide left role - played a slick one-two with Cole on the edge of the box before shooting over the bar.
On the quarter hour mark, more neat interplay saw McCall loft a cross in from the right hand side that Cole was just unable to connect with. Murphy kept the ball alive and found Muir inside the area. The number 9, escaped the clutches of Matt Boiling, turned and saw his low shot gathered well by former Hendon custodian Rikki Banks.
By the midway point of the first half, a couple of crosses into the Hendon box were well dealt with by Collings - one flying two handed punch clear particularly effective, yet the Greens were still well on top. McCall, popping up this time on the left flank sent in a delectable cross that Boiling did superbly to glance away from Cole's greedy forehead, the clearance fell to Seeby 20 yards out whose first time volley was excellently saved by Banks low to his right - the ball came through a crowd of players, so the keeper did extremely well.
A couple of minutes later and Cole sent a glancing header wide before then shooting over whilst stretching following more good play by the energetic Vassell.
Still the openings came Hendon's way, none of them particularly clearcut, but just with the sheer volume it seemed as though the opening goal was imminent. Cole and Muir combined well to set up McCall 25 yards from goal. The midfielder struck the ball well enough, but again found Banks more than equal to the strike, again plunging low to his right to parry the ball away from danger.
Slowly, Worthing began to stem the tide a little and enjoy a little more possession - midfielder Kane Willis' influence on proceedings began to grow and the full-backs, Will Hendon and Sam Rents were able to get more advanced. However, Collings' goal remained unchallenged.
In the final 15 minutes of the half, three more decent half chances fell Hendon's way. Firstly, Niko Muir latched onto a long ball forward and shooting early, didn't really get the connection he'd have liked on his effort and Banks made a comfortable save. Then, Vassell sent in another cross that saw a midfielder getting on the end of - this time McCall turning the ball goalwards at the near post only to see his effort rebound off the near post.
Worthing were forced into a late first half change as Lloyd Dawes limped off injured. He was replaced by the direct and pacey Reis Stanislaus who had caused Hendon's back three on opening day untold problems.
On the stroke of half time, a cross into the box was punched clear by a stretching Banks. Seeby lobbed the ball back with interest towards goal but found his aim slightly awry and the ball bounced safely wide as Banks backpedalled into the goal netting.
There was perhaps a worry that failure to turn first half dominance into goals would come back to haunt the Greens after the break, and whilst Worthing certainly provided a greater threat after the break, Hendon were still much the better side.
Six minutes after the restart, Muir's low cross was well defended by the alert Brannon O'Neil. A couple of minutes later and Banks beat down a McCall shot into Muir's path - however the offside flag denied the Hendon man a chance to net his ninth goal of the season.
Worthing's first real opening in the best part of an hour came on 64 minutes when a long ball forward saw Casey Maclaren and Arthur Lee split for the first time. Omar Bugiel beat the offside flag yet a heavy touch denied the tall number 9 a chance to really test Collings who gathered comfortably.
As the half approached the halfway mark, another superb piece of work from McCall down the right flank saw his low centre again smuggled behind for a corner, this time by Cory Heath. Then, the breakthrough finally arrived.
O'Neil under little pressure inside his own half misplaced a pass straight into the path of Keagan Cole. The 17 year old needed no invitation to advance towards the penalty area before unleashing a drive from a distance in excess of 25 yards that swerved, dipped and swerved again on its way beyond the helpless dive of Rikki Banks into the corner of the net. Having opened his senior competitive account in midweek, Cole's first Isthmian League goal will take some bettering.
Hendon pushed for a second goal, Murphy danced through two or three challenges before shooting weakly and allowing Banks to save comfortably, whilst Muir did extremely well to rob Boiling wide on the left. Evading the Worthing defender's attempts to bring him down, he made his way into the penalty area although was unable to pick out either McCall or Cole with his cross that was well defended by Rents.
Following that, Worthing had their best spell of the game and equalised in what some amongst the Greens' playing and coaching staff felt, were contentious circumstances.
Collings made an outstanding, and extremely brave save at the feet of Stanislaus, who had sprung the offside trap. After two minutes of treatment, the goalkeeper was ready to continue. The game restarted with a contested drop-ball just inside the Hendon area. As the ball dropped, some Hendon players were out of position having been taking on fluids by the dugouts. The ball was worked to Ross Edwards whose cross was headed out as far as Will Hendon.
The Worthing full-back, dinked the ball back in towards goal and what looked like a regulation catch for Collings turned into a horror moment as the ball squirmed through his grasp, off the base of the far post and into the net. Hendon players and coaching staff were furious, remonstrating with officials, opposition players and dugout about the fact that the drop ball was contested. It must be said, that whatever the rights and wrongs of that, the Greens had a couple of opportunities to comfortably deal with the situation.
Undeterred by the concession of the goal, the visitors continued to press in search of a winner. Another McCall cross was headed over Muir just after skipper Kevin Maclaren had left the action with what looked like a knock - he was replaced by Finbarr Robins, whilst Chris Seeby took the armband.
The winner came 8 minutes from time and was worthy reward for a personal performance full of industry and intelligence for Sam Murphy. Receiving the ball from Muir on the edge of the box, he worked himself enough space to arc a lovely strike beyond Banks into the top corner of the net.
Worthing looked for a way back into the game, yet found Casey Maclaren and Arthur Lee in obdurate mood, the former making one particularly good intervention from a dangerous ball into the box from Harvey Sparks. Kane Willis dragged a shot wide of Collings' right hand post as Hendon played out time relatively comfortably, still looking dangerous on the break.
The final whistle brought plenty of succour to the travelling faithful - the Greens producing a performance every bit as emphatic as Worthing's had been at Silver Jubilee Park on opening day, albeit with a narrower score-line. They can approach their second trip of the week to Sussex against Burgess Hill Town on Tuesday with some confidence.
|14||Reis Stanislaus||for 7 , 44|
|15||Ross Edwards||for 10 , 57|
|12||Kezie Ibe||for 9 , 90|
|14||Finbarr Robins||for 6 , 79|
|15||Luke Tingey||for 10 , 84|