|Competition:||Isthmian League Premier Division|
|Date:||Saturday 26 November 2016|
Hendon, for the second straight Saturday, made a long trip to face an opponent which would have gone to the top of the table with the right results and returned to north-west London with all three points. Bognor Regis Town, who had inflicted 3-1, 3-0, 4-1 and 4-0 defeats on the Greens since they returned to the Ryman League Premier Division, were limited to only one effort on target.
There were two changes to Hendon's line-up after the goalless draw and first League clean sheet of the season on Tuesday with Andrew McCorkell taking over in goal after Darren Behcet picked an injury in training and Spencer McCall replacing Leo Donnellan, the Dagenham & Redbridge youngster being named on the bench. Also back on the bench was Kevin Maclaren, whose participation would only have been in extremis.
The Hendon defence was outstanding, with Jamie Smith, Ollie Sprague, Arthur Lee and Brad Hewitt winning almost every challenge, while McCorkell dealt with anything delivered close to him, either punching or catching without fuss. One flap looked worrying, but the ball went out of play yards wide of the target and the referee awarded a goal-kick.
In the 13th minute, Karl Oliyide was brought down by Calvin Davies on the edge of the Rocks' penalty area. McCall took responsibility for the free-kick and his curling, dipping effort almost caught out Dan Lincoln, but the goalkeeper stretched to his full limit and got just enough of a hand to the ball to tip it over the crossbar.
For most of the first half, Hendon comprehensively won the midfield battle was. From the Greens' perspective, Keagan Cole was the standout performer in attacking positions, and Casey Maclaren likewise in protecting the back four.
But their real danger came on the right wing where Jerome Federico gave James Crane a miserable afternoon and, within 15 minutes, the Rocks were supplementing their left-back and captain with Doug Tuck - and the double-team was far from a raging success. Niko Muir was set up by a low Federico cross, but his effort went over the crossbar.
On the other wing, Davies continued to struggle with Oliyide's pace and trickery. These struggles were so obvious the home fans, used to watching their team outpass opponents and create numerous chances, were becoming restless and rather silent.
The one time Ollie Pearce and Jimmy Muitt found themselves with a shooting opportunity, McCorkell was equal to the effort. Hendon's constant pressure on the midfield led to a multitude of missed passes from the Rocks and it also cost them possession a few occasions too.
It also set up Hendon's opening goal in the 37th minute. Tom Cadnam was in possession in the centre circle, looking for a team-mate, but no one was open. Too late, he looked up and saw Cole running straight at him.
The 17-year-old strode forward, took the ball off Cadnam's toe and instantly had a clear run at goal. Cole kept his head, steadied himself, waited for Lincoln to commit himself as he came off goal-line and placed a low shot just inside the left post.
Three minutes later, the lead should have been doubled when panicking defending set up Federico with a clear shot at goal. He went for power when placement might have been the better option, and the ball flew over the crossbar. Cole also had a shot which flew just wide of the upright, though Lincoln probably had the shot covered had it been on target.
Clearly in the ascendancy, Hendon were unhappy to hear the half-time whistle, but they started the second half determined to extend their advantage. Before play started, however, further proof of Bognor's misfiring was evidenced by the replacement of Muitt with Ifeanyi Onwuachu, a dual registration signing from county league Chichester City - where he was far from a regular or a consistent goalscorer.
Indeed, it was Hendon who started much the better and the Greens should have extended their advantage on two or three occasions. In the 46th minute Cole timed a late run into the penalty area and found himself in acres of space after Muir and Federico had worked well together. Cole flicked the ball towards the goal, but Lincoln made an excellent save with his legs.
A minute later, a low ball from Oliyide was struck goalwards by Muir, but he rushed his attempt and the ball was off target. Federico also struck effort an effort over the crossbar with the home defence still at sixes and sevens.
Having weathered the storm, Bognor gradually started to get a bit of control in midfield. For the first time, Hendon were asked to defend for lengthy periods, but they did so very well, aided by some woefully wayward shooting from good attacking positions.
To counter the increased pressure, Hendon replaced Cole with Donnellan. He took up a more defensive position and it left Hendon without the attacking outlet offered by Cole, thus giving Bognor more possession.
The Rocks were not without half-chances, but they continued to misfire. Tommy Fraser, another new signing, and Harvey Whyte - back for his first game after missing more than six months - were sent on as Bognor tried to get back into the contest, without success.
In the final ten minutes of normal time, Ibe and Tingey replaced Muir and Oliyide, respectively. Bognor's frustration, on and off the pitch, was reaching a crescendo as crosses continued to fly out of play, shots rolled wide, passes went astray, and the caution count mounted.
The Greens' clever use of time did have a payback in five minutes of additional time. But it was the visitors' discipline which stayed intact. Federico and Ibe both had half-chances to make the game and then Federico overhit a cross which, if directed accurately, would have given a tap-in for Ibe.
Instead it led to Bognor's final meltdown. Ibe took the ball into the corner, where he was fouled. McCall and Ibe kept the ball by that quadrant, until Davies - cautioned earlier in the half - barrelled into McCall.
The midfielder got up angrily and was bundled back to the ground by the full-back. Close enough to the incident, the referee took decisive action, producing a straight red card for Davies.
Hendon were clever with the free-kick, dragging defenders out of position before the ball was played across the penalty to were Tingey was a spare man. Such was the space afforded to him, Tingey could take a touch before drilling the ball into the net.
There was barely time for the game to restart, but it was the signal for the Hendon players, staff, officials and faithful to go home very, very happy.
|2||Calvin Davies||s/o, 90|
|14||Ifeanyi Onwuachu||for 9 , 46|
|16||Tommy Fraser||for 8 , 72|
|17||Harvey Whyte||for 11 , 80|
|12||Luke Tingey||for 9 , 86|
|14||Leo Donnellan||for 7 , 70|
|17||Kezie Ibe||for 10 , 82|