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Hendon began the new campaign in style on Saturday afternoon as they beat Bognor Regis Town 3-0, despite being reduced to ten men after 31 minutes, and also despite having their preparations disrupted by traffic problems - many people taking well over 3 hours to make the journey to the south coast.
Gary McCann named two debutants in the starting line-up in the shape of James Reading, a goalkeeper released by Wycombe Wanderers in the summer, and Yacine Hamada, a forward who was with Waltham Forest last season. There was a third debutant during the game in the form of Sam Berry, who entered the fray during the second half.
Bognor Regis, who were relegated from the Blue Square South last season, now have a side largely made up of youngsters, with one or two experienced heads, including former Wimbledon, Notts County and Luton Town defender Duncan Jupp. The inexperience of the Bognor side showed as the game progressed.
Both sides had half chances early in the game. In the 6th minute Hamada delivered a good ball across the goal, but no-one was able to connect with it. Then two minutes later, Mickey Demetriou fired a shot at goal, but James Parker was on hand to clear.
The Greens next chance came courtesy of Kevin Maclaren, whose shot flew over the bar after good work involving James Bent, Brian Haule and Hamada. Almost immediately Harry Hunt then broke clear of the defence but his shot went just wide.
The next Hendon player to fire at goal was Jamie Busby, whose curling effort went narrowly wide, having been set up by Craig Vargas. At the other end James Archer was sent clear by Charlie Oatway, but Archer's effort rolled apologetically into the arms of Reading.
Then came the moment when Hendon were reduced to ten men. James Bent pulled back a Bognor defender by the shirt, and the referee awarded a free-kick. As he blew the whistle James Crane appeared to put in a two footed tackle on Busby, who reacted with a kick. Unfortunately for Busby, the official saw his kick and dismissed him from the field of play. Bent was cautioned for his foul, but there was no sanction for the Bognor left back.
Bognor then enjoyed their best period of the game, but they were unable to test Reading, with efforts from Louis Castles, Archer and Crane all going wide of the target.
However, the red card did seem to galvanise the Greens, and after half-time, with James Burgess and Wayne O'Sullivan replacing Dave Diedhiou and Brian Haule, they came out determined to take the game to their hosts.
O'Sullivan, making his first competitive appearance since returning from his sojourns at Stevenage Borough and Braintree Town, nearly opened the scoring two minutes into the half, but his free kick flew narrowly wide. The play went straight down the other end, where the Rocks wasted a free kick that was never in danger of testing the Hendon defence.
Three minutes later, Mark Leach fired a fierce free kick at the keeper, and then after Hamada had been fouled, O'Sullivan had another free-kick go close to the target. Bognor also had a chance when Demetriou broke clear, but Reading was wise to his effort and saved comfortably.
Hendon continued to pile on the pressure, and were finally rewarded in the 66th minute. Hamada fed the ball to O'Sullivan, who in turn laid the ball off to Bent, who himself fired a superb strike beyond the despairing dive of Anthony Elder into the far corner of the net.
Demetriou and Oatway both had half-chances to equalise, but the Hendon defence was holding firm, with Reading in commanding form between the sticks. In the 81st minute, Bognor were awarded a corner. They took the corner, but it was cleared by a Hendon head. The ball landed at Hunt's feet and he spotted O'Sullivan about to beat the offside trap. Hunt delivered the perfect pass, and O'Sullivan held off the challenge of Crane as he headed towards goal to curl the ball beyond Elder and into the net.
The final goal came with a couple of minutes to goal when Berry delivered the ball into space for Hunt to run on to. Hunt took the ball under control, spotted Elder coming off his line and sent in a low shot from an acute angle just outside the penalty area. It completed a hat-trick of well worked goals by the travelling side, and meant that the travelling Hendon fans would have a happy journey home.
"The sending off galvanised us", said a very happy Mr McCann after the game. "We made changes at half-time and came out with a game plan that we executed perfectly with some very good goals. I am very happy with our performance today."