Hendon opened up their preseason campaign with a 3-1 defeat at Boreham Wood on Saturday afternoon. However, what will have pleased manager Gary McCann most was that in the first half, when both teams had more of they hoped to be their first-choice elevens out, Hendon had distinctly the better of the exchanges.
The star for the Greens was Japanese midfielder/winger Takumi Ake, who made one first-team substitute appearance last season. The youngster who had trials at J-League club Vissel Kobe, was a constant thorn in the right side of the Wood defence.
And it was Ake who scored the opening goal, in the 11th minute. He was put through, brought the ball down with an expert first touch, took the ball past a defender with his second touch and then drove the ball beyond Noel Imber.
It took Wood three minutes to equalise, Marvin Samuel scoring from close range after Richard Wilmot - back for a second spell at Claremont Road having played for the club in 1999/2000 - had parried a powerful cross-cum-shot from Darryl Cox.
Leon Maloney then came very close to restoring Hendon's advantage. In the 18th minute, he spotted Imber off his line and tried an audacious lob. The goalkeeper just about got back to catch the ball short of the line and although he stepped into the goal, Imber made sure the ball didn't cross the goalline.
Jamie Busby, another holdover from last season, made a magnificent run that lacked only a finish to match the build-up and Imber made a sprawling save. Ake also put three other efforts on target, but none really troubled the experienced goalkeeper and, it must be said, there were better passing options available to Ake than taking shots.
In defence, Yiadom Yeboah, formerly with Hayes, was the pick of the bunch. By no means certain to put pen to paper for Hendon, his assured performance will have made the Greens' management team even keener to keep the Ghanaian if at all possible.
The second half was a big disappointment for Hendon. Both teams made a lot of changes, these continued throughout the period too, but Hendon's second-choice squad certainly struggled. A short back-pass after 52 minutes gave Wilmot little chance to clear the danger. Although he reached the ball first, Cox was able to block the clearance which bounced into the unguarded net.
A couple of long-range efforts from James Burgess were all that Hendon had to offer, apart the most amazing throw-ins from gangly striker Lamelle Williams. He easily overthrew Hendon's deepest forward with one throw and a Boreham Wood defender on the penalty spot was at full stretch to clear the danger.
The stifling heat also ensured the pace of the game dropped significantly after the break, but Wood added a third late on when Danny Hart was released down the Boreham Wood right and he had only Wilmot to beat before wrapping up victory.
"I was very pleased with the first half performance," said Mr McCann. "We are going to have to work very hard to compete this season, but we showed what we could do in the first half."