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Hendon gave Needham Market a lesson in Ryman League Premier Division football as they eased to a 3-0 victory at a baking hot Bloomfields in the Suffolk market town. The Greens - who climbed to fourth in the League - dominated almost completely, but a strange statistic was that both teams managed four on-target attempts.
The Greens made a number of changes from the team which played at Molesey, with Joe Wright, Ryan Wharton and Russell Short coming in for Melvin Minter, Dave Diedhiou and Tony Taggart. The latter two were joined on the subs' bench by Lee O'Leary, Maz Bettache and fit-again Kezie Ibe.
There was little indication of how the game would go in the opening 10 or so minutes, but Hendon gradually began to exert control and used the wide pitch to great effect. It quickly became clear that the Marketmen had either a lack of fitness, desire or interest in doing too much chasing because the Greens dominated possession.
Strangely, however, the opening goal, in the 15th minute came from the much more basic route one method. Sam Flegg launched a ball downfield, Christopher Hogg made a complete hash of dealing with it and it fell to earth behind him.
Shaun Phillips should have beaten Leon Smith to the ball, but the goalkeeper was slow off his line. The result was that Smith was got to the ball first and he was able to knock it under the keeper's body into the net.
Hendon might have had a penalty a few minutes later when Smith muscled his way into the penalty area. Keiran Morphew made a clumsy challenge, but Smith kept his feet and fired into the side-netting. Had he gone over, the referee would have been left with a difficult decision regarding a penalty and possible sanction for denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity.
Hogg was having a torrid afternoon and another error gave Aaron Morgan a chance to double the advantage. His shot was watched all the way by Phillips, who made no attempt to reach the ball and was grateful to see it fly inches outside the far post.
Hogg's next mistake did lead to Hendon's second goal in the 31st minute. His backpass to Phillips was horribly short and Morgan this time took advantage of Phillips' hesitancy. The goalkeeper managed a half-block, but Morgan kept his feet and rolled the ball in the empty net.
Three minutes later, Needham Market did manage to create a reasonable opening. Sam Newson, who lost his marker, met a good low cross from the left wing and flicked the ball towards the near post, where Wright made a good low save.
After this scare Hendon decreased the tempo but still ran the Marketmen ragged. It was a 10-minute masterclass in passing and possession. One minute of additional time at the end of the first half was merciful because Needham Market looked likely to concede at any time.
Whatever Mark Morsley said to his charges in the home dressing room had some effect, because, for 15 or so minutes, they made a game of it. Midfielder Regan Pelling replaced Hogg which certainly improved the defensive line, while going forward, a couple of shots at Wright were dealt with easily.
In the main, Flegg and Ollie Sprague dealt with everything that came at them down their flanks, while the centre-back partnership of Wharton and Luke Tingey was assured, denying Newson and the veteran Karl Duguid any clear openings.
Thereafter, however, Russell Short and Courtney Harris regained control and Hendon began to create danger, especially down their left flank. Ollie Sprague, linking up well with Sam Murphy, was wasteful with three shooting efforts.
Needham were indebted to Oliver Fenn with brilliant block to deny Smith before, midway through the half, Scott Shulton drilled a 20-yard shot off the foot of a post. He had been set up by another wayward pass out of defence, a lesson the Marketmen clearly didnâ€™t learn.
Seven minutes later Shulton again picked up a loose ball ran forward and drilled a shot just inside the post. Phillips seemed to be slow to react and his reaction, as the ball nestled in the net behind him, was that he should have done better.
The Greens had already made their first two changes, O'Leary and Bettache replacing Harris and Smith, respectively. Two minutes after the third goal, Ibe took over from Shulton and he will be the better for his 15-minute run-out in what was essentially a non-pressure game situation.
Fenn made another timely intervention to deflect an Ibe pass away from Morgan before he blotted his copybook with a rash challenge that earned himself a booking - the only one of the match. In fact it was the only bad foul in the match.
Two minutes from time, Fenn appeared at the other end and met a cross from Luke Ingram. His header was well placed, but Wright produced a magnificent back-arching fingertip save to push the ball over the crossbar.
His reaction at pretty much ensuring another clean sheet was not pleasure, but the cause of a tirade at his defenders for allowing the chance to come in the first place. It was a reaction that was noticed with pleasure by the Hendon bench.
It showed not only a desire to win, but the level of professionalism that had the Needham Market faithful marvelling. After the final whistle a couple of fans were reviewing the match, "I think we have learned what a good team in this League looks like," one said to his friend who had complained about his team's performance.