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Match Report

Metropolitan Police
3
Hendon
0
Date:
Saturday 06 February 2016
Competition:
Isthmian League Premier Division
Attendance:
79
Venue:
TBA

Match Report

Hendon produced one of their worst performances of the season as they were brushed aside by Metropolitan Police. Adding insult to injury was the fact that all three goals were scored by someone who started the season a Hendon hero, Leon Smith.

On an afternoon when the wind made good football very difficult, the Greens appeared to be rusty. However, it must be said the Blues used the conditions in both halves far better and Hendon did not manage a single shot on target in the 90 minutes.

The only change to Hendon line-up from the victory over Staines was Russell Short returning at Carl McCluskey's expense. He was joined on the bench by Tony Taggart, and Ben Pattie, but the bigger news was the naming of Casey Maclaren and Omar Vassell, the former having completed his FA-enforced nine-month layoff and the latter back after 10 weeks away for personal and work reasons, as the other two replacements.

Metropolitan Police had the wind at their backs in the first half and, for half a dozen minutes, were forced to defend. A good low cross from Luke Tingey was cleanly gathered low down by Oliver Pain with Kezie Ibe and Adam Wallace sniffing for a half-chance if the keeper mishandled.

Once the ball started going towards the other end, however, the Hendon defence struggled to cope. Prompted by Billy Crook, the Police began a serious examination of the Greens, and the answers were not forthcoming.

In the 11th minute, Crook played a short pass to another former Hendon favourite Andre Da Costa, and his pass of 10 yards rolled into the path of Smith. No defender reacted quickly enough and as Joe Wright came off his line, Smith stroked the ball past him.

When Hendon tried to respond down the middle, the Greens found veterans Steve Sutherland and Jay Lovett in uncompromising form. They forced Ibe and Wallace to look for the ball in wider positions, and it was from one of these, in the 19th minute, that Hendon came closest to an equaliser.

Luke Tingey, Dean Cracknell and Ibe combined down the right side and Ibe found himself bearing down on goal at an acute angle. He tried and early shot that a sprawling Pain couldn't reach as the ball struck the outside of the near post.

In the 37th minute, Hendon needlessly conceded a corner and almost went two-down as a result. When the ball came into the penalty area, it was directly goalwards, but Sam Murphy, defending the far post, had not left his position and headed the ball away to safety.

There was, maybe, the tiniest hint of good fortune behind the second Police goal, five minutes before half-time. Da Costa led an attack but Ollie Sprague tackled him, sending the ball to the feet of Crook, who steadied himself before shooting at goal.

A green-shirted defender threw himself into the ball's path and blocked it. Smith was waiting on the edge of the penalty area and he was the fastest to react to the loose ball, striking it into the bottom corner.

If Hendon had been unlucky with the rebound, their fortunes certainly changed in stoppage time. Smith was sent free and had only Wright to beat. The goalkeeper got to the ball first and was able to make a clearance, only he did use his hands 10 yards outside the penalty area.

The referee, if he had seen it, would surely have dismissed Wright. However, a player blocked his clear line of sight and neither of his assistants flagged. Key decisions, such as this one, cannot be made on guesswork, and as the referee was not certain about this one, he could not make it - which is how he explained it to the Police management team.

For the first half-dozen minutes of the second half, Hendon were in the ascendancy and, for all their ineptitude, they were victims of one piece of misfortune - but it was only one. A long throw-in from Luke Tingey was carried by the wind and a number of players tried to reach the ball.

Whether a player got a touch is unclear, but a panicking Ollie Treacher made sure the ball didn't sneak inside the far post by ferrying it out of play with his hand. It was definitely on the referee's blind side, but his assistant in line with the action was not certain it was hand or chest that touched the ball, so Hendon had a corner. The guilty grin of relief on Treacher's face told its own story.

Such was the paucity of Hendon's imagination and play that no more set-pieces of any description would be touched by a green-shirted player in the Metropolitan Police penalty area in the final 35 minutes.

Indeed, apart from one superb catch by Pain of a Wallace cross - with Ibe about to head home - the goalkeeper had almost nothing to do.

Midway through the half, Taggart and McCluskey were introduced at Short and Murphy's expenses, respectively, but they could not make an impression. Later on, Pattie took over from Mark Kirby, but the three-man Hendon strike-force was equally unable to upset the game's flow.

In the 77th minute, Dave Diedhiou lost the ball in a challenge with Smith. The striker set off for goal, beat two defenders with embarrassing ease and fired past Wright to complete his hat-trick.

The Blues made their three changes with Da Costa making way for Charlie Collins (69 minutes), Nathan Campbell replacing Ryan James (75) and Elliott Taylor taking over Smith (81), who had done more than enough damage to his former team-mates.

Despite the wind remaining as strong as ever, the Police completely dominated the closing stages and they could have added to their advantage two or three more times before the final whistle brought a merciful end to Hendon's miserable afternoon.

Report by David Ballheimer

Hendon

1
Joe Wright
2
Luke Tingey
3
Oliver Sprague
4
Dave Diedhiou
5
Mark Kirby
6
Russell Short
7
Wesley Fonguck
8
Dean Cracknell
9
Adam Wallace
10
Kezie Ibe
11
Sam Murphy
12
Tony Taggart
13
Ben Pattie
14
Carl McCluskey
15
Casey Maclaren
16
Omar Vassell

Match Events

Leon Smith
12''
Leon Smith
40''
63''
Tony Taggart replaced Sam Murphy
63''
Carl McCluskey replaced Russell Short
Charlie Collins replaced Andre Da Costa
67''
Nathan Campbell replaced Ryan James
74''
Leon Smith
76''
Elliot Taylor replaced Leon Smith
79''
81''
Ben Pattie replaced Mark Kirby

Metropolitan Police

1
Oliver Pain
2
Will Salmon
3
Ollie Treacher
4
Billy Crook
5
Steve Sutherland
6
Jay Lovett
7
Tom Hickey
8
Ryan James
9
Leon Smith
10
Andre Da Costa
11
Joe Turner
12
Elliot Taylor
13
Scott Tarr
14
Nathan Campbell
15
Charlie Collins
16
Ola Akinwade