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Match Report

Hendon
0
Metropolitan Police
0
Date:
Saturday 23 October 2010
Competition:
FA Cup
Attendance:
269
Venue:
TBA

Match Report

Hendon, to reach the first round proper of the e.on-sponsored FA Cup, will have to do it the hard way after being held to a goalless draw by a determined Metropolitan Police at Vale Farm on Saturday. The Greens totally dominated the thoroughly entertaining, if somewhat one-sided game and were distinctly unfortunate not to win by a large margin.

Such was Hendon's domination that the Blues were limited to just three reasonable openings in the whole 90 minutes - only one of which was actually on target - and they were indebted to their goalkeeper Mo Maan, who produced a magnificent performance. The Police were also were a tad fortunate to finish the game with as many as 10 men on the pitch.

Kevin Maclaren replaced the suspended Jamie Busby in the Greens’ midfield, while Lubo Guentchev and Aaron Morgan came into the starting line-up at the expense of Danny Dyer and Daniel Wishart, who both dropped down to the bench.

Hendon were inches away from the dream start they wanted. Barely 40 seconds had elapsed when a low driven cross eluded the outstretched leg of Belal Aite-Ouakrim. Practically any contact would have given Hendon the lead.

In the eighth minute, the Police won a corner. It was flicked on and the ball went beyond the far post to where Steve Noakes was lurking. He was clearly not expecting the ball to arrive because it bounced off his shin and missed the goal by about a foot.

Three minutes later, it was Hendon who again went close. A well-flighted corner from Scott Cousins was headed goalwards by Craig Vargas. It eluded Maan and a defender guarding the near post but, unfortunately for the Hendon defender, his 18-month wait for a goal was extended as the ball didn't drop quickly enough, clipped the underside of the crossbar and was hacked clear.

In the 18th minute, the Blues captain Nicky Humphrey was cautioned for an off-the-ball challenge on Lubomir Guentchev. The Hendon player was about to run onto a through ball from Aite-Ouakrim and would have had only the goalkeeper to beat had Humphrey not intervened illegally.

The referee saw the incident and instantly awarded a free-kick. A card had to be shown to Humphrey, and the defender was perhaps slightly fortunate that it was a yellow one that the official pulled out of his pocket.

From the free-kick, Guentchev struck a volley inches wide of the post. The ball was not struck perfectly, but Maan would probably not have been able to reach the ball had it been just inside the upright.

After 32 minutes, from a rare Blues raid, a shot from James Field deflected into the path of Eddie Smith. He was only a dozen or so yards out and had most of the goal to aim at. Instead of stroking the ball towards the goal, Smith went for power and lifted the ball high over the bar.

Four minutes before half-time, Hendon players, officials and supporters were cursing the frame of the goal again as it denied the Greens an opening goal. Morgan did exceptionally well, linking with Cousins and delivered a teasing cross.

Casey Maclaren launched himself at the ball but, as with Eddie Smith nine minutes earlier, paid the penalty for putting too much power on his effort. A tiny bit less on the header would have resulted in the ball only grazing the underside of the bar on its way into the net instead of thudding off it and again being cleared by a grateful defender.

Three minutes later, Maan was likely to be beaten by a shot from Morgan. He was, however, rescued by the leg of a defender, who deflected the ball inches wide of the post.

For all Hendon;s domination, it was not until the first minute of first-half stoppage time that Maan actually had to make a save, and it was a more than decent one, as he flung himself to his left to keep out a drive from Morgan.

From this corner, Maan tried to claim it but ran into a group of players also contesting for the ball. He was knocked to the ground as the ball was hacked out for another corner. Feeling he was the victim of foul play, he let the referee know his opinion. The official took a dim view of this and showed him a yellow card.

Hendon started the second half much as they begun the first. Just over a minute after the resumption a through ball found Guentchev, who had only Maan to beat. But the goalkeeper was equal to the challenge and made a good save.

If Maan's two saves either side of half-time were good, they paled into insignificance against his rejection of another Guentchev effort after 59 minutes. The Hendon striker fired in an early first-time shot as the ball came off a defender into his path. But Maan, already moving across his goal, twisted in midair and caught Guentchev's curling drive.

The Police were struggling to get the ball out of their own half, such was Hendon's dominance and they made a change, taking off Eddie Smith and replacing him with Vernon Francis.

Hendon, meanwhile, briefly changed their tactics, opting for longer diagonal balls from Jonathan Coke and Cousins in bids to turn around Humphrey and Ron Edwards as they tried to slow down the runs from Morgan and Aite-Ouakrim. On more than one occasion, an attempted clearance was sliced, but the ball fell to a blue-shirted team-mate rather than a waiting Hendon player.

But the Blues nearly snatched the tie in the 75th minute when a powerful header from Craig Brown was superbly tipped over his bar by Berkley Laurencin. He had been a virtual spectator for the previous half-hour, but he showed excellent powers of concentration in being ready to make a big save when it was required.

Two minutes later Aite-Ouakrim had the ball at his feet and Edwards, half a step behind him, was not likely to catch him. Five yards outside the penalty area, Edwards pulled down the Hendon striker. There were defenders in the vicinity, but none - in the referee's opinion - close enough to slow down or stop Aite-Ouakrim's progress towards Maan.

It was a clear-cut decision and the red card saw Edwards banished and Police reduced to 10 men for the final 15 or so minutes. Hendon could not capitalise on the set piece, the ball being blasted against the defensive wall and the rebound hit high over the crossbar.

To shore up the defence, the Police withdrew Gary Drewett, sending on the more defensive Elliot Taylor, and withdrawing Francis into an even deeper role. It meant that the already horribly isolated Craig Watkins was even more alone in attack.

With six minutes of normal time remaining, Wishart replaced Guentchev and he nearly scored within a couple of minutes of coming on. A long range shot took a deflection towards Maan, who couldn't hold the ball at the first attempt, but grabbed it with Wishart a couple of strides away from the rebound.

In the final minute, Maan made his best save of the afternoon, flinging himself to his left to keep out a rasping drive from Lee O'Leary. It would have been rough justice on the agile goalkeeper had he been beaten so late in the game.

In stoppage time, Dyer replaced the exhausted Morgan, but he didn't have the opportunity to snatch what would have been an entirely deserved Hendon winner.

Hendon manager Gary McCann said, "I am not frustrated that we didn't win today, because I don’t think we did much wrong. In fact I thought we were excellent in every facet, with the possible exception of our finishing. But their goalkeeper had a superb game.

"We are still in the competition and if we play like that again, I am sure we will prevail in the replay."

Metropolitan Police assistant manager Gavin McPherson, a former Hendon player, said, "Hendon are by miles the best team we have played this season. It was our worst performance of the season, but at our best, against the way Hendon played today, I am not sure we would have been good enough to win."

Report by David Ballheimer

Sponsors

Match:
Julian Rose
Matchballs:
Jeremy Lawrence
Mascots:
Harry Dillon

Hendon

1
Berkley Laurencin
2
Jonathan Coke
3
Scott Cousins
4
Craig Vargas
5
James Parker
6
Kevin Maclaren
7
Lubomir Guentchev
8
Lee O'Leary
9
Belal Aite-Ouakrim
10
Casey Maclaren
11
Aaron Morgan
12
Danny Dyer
13
Michael Peacock
14
Daniel Wishart
15
Eddie Munnelly
16
James Reading
17
Mariusz Serwin
18
Dave Reading

Match Events

7''
Daniel Wishart replaced Unknown
11''
Danny Dyer replaced Unknown
Vernon Francis replaced Eddie Smith
73''
Ron Edwards
77''
Elliot Taylor replaced Gary Drewett
78''

Metropolitan Police

1
Mo Maan
2
Steve Noakes
3
Chris Bourne
4
Nicky Humphrey
5
Ron Edwards
6
Gary Drewett
7
Craig Brown
8
Tyrone Smith
9
Craig Watkins
10
Eddie Smith
11
James Field
12
Elliot Taylor
14
Neil Lampton
15
Vernon Francis
16
James Carr
17
Nathan Simpson
18
James Cottee
19
David Smalley