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Hendon recorded their first victory against Sutton United with Gary McCann as manager and so inflicted only the fifth defeat for the Ryman League Premier Division leaders who had won their previous five matches to earn a five-point cushion ahead of the chasing pack. As a overall performance, it is hard to criticise a single player and it was one McCann felt was one of the best in his six years in charge.
There were a few changes to the starting line-up, with Dave Diedhiou replacing Jonathan Coke, new signing Bradley Fraser (from Boreham Wood on dual-registration terms) coming in for Michael Peacock and Lubo Guentchev taking over from Jason Mason. Such is the nature of Hendon's long injury list that four of the five substitutes have made numerous appearances at right-back: Coke, James Burgess, Danny Dyer and Eddie Munnelly - Brian Haule being the exception.
Diedhiou's main role was to stifle Leroy Griffiths, but he nearly gave Hendon the lead on a foray forward in the 12th minute. He struck a powerful drive which surprised Kevin Scriven in the Sutton goal. Scriven's parry went further away than he expected and Aaron Morgan was only denied the opening goal thanks to a brave block by the quick-recovering goalkeeper.
Seven minutes later, Scriven was comprehensively beaten by a shot from Jamie Busby. Thirty yards from goal, following a short corner move with Guentchev which had been half-cleared, Busby let fly with a dipping drive that struck the top of the crossbar and bounced away to safety.
Sutton struggled to deal with quick and clever passing from the Hendon midfield which released Guentchev, Morgan and Belal Aite-Ouakrim. And it was the last of these who nearly gave Hendon the lead after 32 minutes when put through by Busby. Once more Scriven reacted quickly and bravely, diving at the feet of Aite-Ouakrim to block the striker's shot with his legs.
Sutton were still dangerous propositions when they went forward, but Daniel Sintim, whose loan spell has been extended for another month, and Fraser quickly formed a good understanding. Fraser and Sintim played the dangerous Craig Dundas and Andy Forbes so well that the Us only attempts at goal were from distance and none troubled Berkley Laurencin, who will remember his 50th Hendon appearance fondly - a win and a clean sheet.
Three minutes from the end of the first half, the match flared up. A rash challenge from Diedhiou was spotted by the referee, who played an advantage, but it came to nothing as a challenge by Casey Maclaren on Karl Murray broke up play. As the referee sought out Diedhiou to administer a caution, at the spot of the foul, Sutton tried to place the ball where Maclaren and Murray had met.
Maclaren took the ball from Murray to take or kick it to where the referee was standing - and had signalled for the free-kick, but Murray reacted by snatching it back, then pulling Maclaren to the ground in a headlock.
A square dance followed and once the players had been separated, the referee took reports from both his assistants, and ended up showing Diedhiou, Casey Maclaren, Kevin Maclaren and Karim El-Salahi, the Sutton captain, yellow cards.
For El-Salahi the sanction was simultaneously fortunate and unfortunate: the offence committed by Murray merited a red card, but Murray escaped sanction in a case of mistaken identity. The players do look similar - apart from a six-inch height difference.
It took more than six minutes for the kerfuffle to be sorted out and the Hendon defensive wall did its job, blocking the original shot and then the ball was cleared downfield.
In the fifth minute of added time, Hendon struck what proved to be the game's decisive blow. A quick counter-attack saw the Sutton defence stretched and a through ball released Aite-Ouakrim.
He got in front of former Hendon man Sam Page and ran diagonally towards goal. Scriven came off his line, but Aite-Ouakrim played the ball across him, striking the ball a little harder than Morgan really wanted. But Morgan accelerated and did just enough to side-foot the ball into the almost unguarded goal.
The Hendon management team have been working hard with Aite-Ouakrim to improve decision-making in attacking positions and it paid huge dividends for the second consecutive match because he set up Morgan with the opening goal against Maidstone on Saturday.
Hendon knew they could expect an early second-half onslaught from the Us, but although they enjoyed more possession and territory, Laurencin didn't have to make a save of note in the first quarter hour of the period.
Sutton were beginning to get a bit desperate, on and off the pitch. A number of players picked up cautions while the management team decided on the drastic measure of a triple substitution with more than half an hour remaining. Kennedy Adjei, Fola Orilonishe and Bradley Woods-Garness were introduced at the expense of Tom Davis, Forbes and Tommy Kavanagh, respectively.
Woods-Garness attacked the wing defended by Scott Cousins, but got absolutely no change out of the Hendon skipper, who led his team in exemplary fashion. The Us finally managed to get some efforts on target, but Laurencin produced three excellent second half saves.
As an attacking force, Hendon didn't really create much, but they did force a couple of late corners and looked dangerous from them.
Almost the last straw for Sutton came in the 80th minute, when Dundas was shown a yellow card for unsporting behaviour, apparently attempting to block a clearance by Laurencin. He was actually about five yards from the goalkeeper when he kicked the ball, and Dundas was outside the penalty area.
Guentchev (79 minutes) and Aite-Ouakrim (89) were withdrawn by Hendon, both players having run themselves to near standstills. Munnelly took over from Guentchev and Haule from Aite-Ouakrim. The two substitutes combined with the superb Morgan in a spell of keep-ball by a Sutton corner flag which, legitimately, wasted around two minutes of time Sutton didn't have.
After almost five minutes of added time, the referee ended proceedings, much to the joy of the Hendon faithful.
"That was one of the best team performances since I have been manager," said a delighted and very proud McCann. "This was a thoroughly professional performance.
"Every player did their job and gave me everything. If I had to single people out, it would be the two centre-halves, Daniel Sintim and Brad Fraser, who only met for the first time in our dressing room at 6.30. They built up an immediate understanding."