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Hendon completed their first Ryman League Premier Division double of the season when they travelled to the Keith Tuckey Stadium on Saturday and saw off struggling Croydon Athletic 4-1. It was far from a vintage Hendon performance, but the Greens, lacking five players (three strikers and two defenders), may well have run up double figures with a more clinical show in front of goal.
There were two changes from the team which fought back so gallantly against Bury Town in midweek, with Danny Dyer replacing the suspended Scott Cousins and Kevin Maclaren coming in for Brian Haule, who dropped to the bench. The changes also forced the Greens to reshuffle the team positionally.
Nevertheless, it was Hendon who started the better and soon had the home defence on the back foot. It proved important because Croydon Atheltic's concentration on defence allowed Jonathan Coke plenty of space to move forward in the 16th minute.
The full-back picked up possession close to the half-way line and was allowed to run unchallenged towards to the penalty. When he got to within 25 yards of the Rams goal, Coke fired in a shot which swerved away from Adam Peck and nestled just inside the far post. It was his first goal for the club and only the second by a Hendon defender this season.
Croydon Athletic, who haven't won a game since their off-field issues hit the front pages in late August, continued to scrap for everything and managed to put Hendon off their game, but the Greens did at least have the confidence that came with breaking the deadlock.
The lead really should have been doubled after 31 minutes when Daniel Wishart had a great chance after good work from Lee O'Leary. A defender's deflection gave him a clear sight of goal, but Peck recovered his position very quickly and was able to make a save with his legs.
Hendon's defence was far more its most convincing and Dan Moody failed to capitalise after 34 minutes hurrying his shot wide. But, seven minutes later, he was celebrating the equaliser.
From a corner, three Hendon players seemed to waste the chance to clear the danger and when the ball fell to Moody, he somehow found a gap in the forest of legs and bodies to shoot past James Reading.
But the feature of a good side it that it can rebound from a setback and Hendon were back in front before half-time. Coke got behind the Croydon Athletic defence and delivered a teasing cross to the far post, when an unmarked O'Leary was waiting.
O'Leary's header brought out another excellent save from Peck, the goalkeeper blocking the ball. But Casey Maclaren was quick to react to the loose ball and he spun and fired it above the scrambling Peck into the roof of the net.
Three minutes into the second half, Hendon exended their advantage. A through ball from O'Leary invited Casey Maclaren to chase it with Kevin Sefaah in close attendance.
The centre-half was outmuscled by Maclaren and only stopped his progress by pulling him back. It was probably correct for the referee to award a penalty and the yellow was an equally appopriate punishment for Sefaah.
Jamie Busby took the spot-kick and although Peck guessed correctly, he was not close to making a save.
Ten minutes later, a possible rout was one as Wishart, given acres of time and space, fired low into the corner. Wishart, who extended his loan period from Hayes & Yeading through to the beginning of December, has now scored three times for Hendon, all against Croydon Athletic.
The result was now beyond doubt, but the last half hour was notable only for the number of gilt-edged chances that were spurned by both teams. Hendon had the majority of them, six to three, but the scoreline didn't change.
Peck produced a magnificent save to deny Lubomir Guentchev a goal after 62 minutes. He was lobbed by the Bulgarian, but somehow turned, sprinted back and palmed the ball away as it dipped just under the crossbar
Hendon, comfortable that they weren't going to lose the match, withdrew the fulcrum of the midfield, O'Leary and Busby, replacing them Lee Scott - making his first-team debut - and Eddie Munnelly. This resulted in another positional reshuffle but no change in Hendon's continued domination.
Wishart could have scored his second goal after 74 minutes, but again he was denied by Peck. Six minutes later, Haule replaced him, giving Hendon a recognised striker for the final few minutes.
At the other end, Hendon, apparently bored with the amount of possession they were enjoying, proceeded to give the ball away with alarming regularity. Reggie Savage really should have reduced the arrears but he lifted the ball wide of the target when scoring seemed much easier.
Moody and Danny Elgar - the latter often a thorn in the Hendon side on his day - both had presentable openings but failed to take them, but the better chances fell to the Greens.
Two minutes after coming on the pitch, Haule had little more than a tap-in, following a cross from Dyer, but he scooped the ball high over the crossbar from about three yards out. Haule then couldn't keep a header down from a right-wing corner and the substitute made it three misses out of three when, at full stretch, he was not able to divert another angled ball on target.
"I wasnâ€™t overly convinced by our performance," admitted Hendon manager Gary McCann, "and I told the players so in the dressing room after the game. I thought we were very sloppy, but it was still a comfortable win.
"Croydon Athletic are fighting for everything at the moment, as we knew they would, and they could of scored two or three more goals. That said, if we had been a bit more clinical in front of goal we could have got 10 or 12."