Hendon won their opening home game in the Evo-Stik Southern League South Division Premier, beating Walton Casuals - promoted from the Bostik League Division One South through the playoffs last season - 3-0 at Silver Jubilee Park on Tuesday night. In reality the final score did not reflect on the game and key saves by Danny Boness kept the clean sheet.
There were two changes to the team which had started at Frome, Stephane Ngamvoulou and Taishan Griffith coming in for the players they had replaced on Saturday, namely Prince Mbengui and Rene Howe, respectively.
Kicking down the hill in the first half, the Casuals were determined to attack with great pace and, in the second minute, they showed what they were capable of. Youssuf Bamba went down the right wing and his low cross was turned goalwards by Sean McCormack, but Boness made a superb save.
Hendon's first chance came in the 12th minute when a foul on the edge of the penalty area gave Laste Dombaxe the chance to shoot. His effort was on target, but Denzel Gerrar was not troubled in making the save.
Five minutes later, the Greens were in front. They forced a corner down the right wing and when the ball was curled into the penalty area by Lee Chappell, Luke Tingey ran into the six-yard box and powered home a header without a royal blue shirt doing much to make it difficult for him.
The Greens' ball control was not always great and this allowed Walton to launch rapid counter-attacks. In the 19th minute, one of these raids ended with McCormack having a free-header, but he could not keep the ball down and it sailed over the crossbar.
The goal of the night came in the 25th minute and it was rather special. A ball down the left released Ricardo German, who quickly stepped past the first Walton challenge. He was still close to the touchline but he then angled towards the goalline inside the penalty area, now finding two more two defenders to beat.
This did not take German long, but he was soon faced by another duo, plus Gerrar. A beautiful stepover took out the two defenders and before Gerrar could get close German had rolled the ball into the net.
Walton's next attack saw Issac Sarpong and Jean-Luc Kinsaba link with Bamba, but the effort from Bamba, who was in a very good shooting position, was hurried and the ball flew high and wide. Casuals then had what seemed a reasonable penalty claim turned down as a forward seemed to be nudged over in the penalty area.
In the 37th minute, another challenge in Hendon box, this time on Kyron Farrell, got the penalty decision they craved. Last season, before the playoffs, when they were perfect, Walton missed 11 penalties and Farrell became another to fail from 12 yards, his spot-kick being brilliantly palmed away by Boness.
On the stroke of half-time, a right-wing Hendon raid set up German for what seemed a simple chance. Pressured by a defender, who gave him - it turned out - a dead leg in the challenge, German failed to beat Gerrar and required treatment before being able to continue.
In fact, German could not shake off the knock and he did not appear for the second half, Tyriq Hunte replacing him. The second half was, for at least the first 30 minutes, dominated by Hendon as Howard Hall, Chappell, Junior Osborne and Guri Demuria stopped everything from Walton, who rather ran out of ideas when extreme pace didn't work.
Mention must also go to the midfield where Tingey was calmness personified in the holding role, allowing Cole Brown, Dombaxe and Ngamvoulou to be creative further downfield. Dombaxe nearly added to the lead with a shot after 56 minutes, but it went just over the bar. Brown then made a break downfield but he rather rushed his shot and failed to hit the target.
The willingness of Brown, Dombaxe, Ngamvoulou, Griffith and Hunte to pressure the Walton defence led to errors being made and this was directly responsible for the third goal.
Just past the hour mark, with nothing in front of Joe Hicks, he passed back to Gerrar, whose clearance lacked both accuracy and much distance. Although Alex Kelly got to the ball first, he was quickly dispossessed by Ngamvoulou, who raced into the penalty area.
Ngamvoulou certainly could have tried a shot himself, but his angle was getting tighter and with Hicks coming across to cover and Gerrar narrowing the angle, the sensible option was a pass to the unmarked Hunte. It was not the most convincing of finishes, but Hunte angled the ball just inside the far post and the Greens had a three-goal cushion.
Three very nearly became four when Hendon were awarded a free-kick just outside the penalty area, in a central position. Chappell took responsibility for this set-piece and watched in disappointment as the ball crashed off the crossbar and bounced away to safety.
Tom Collins had already replaced Farrell when Walton made their last two changes, Jayden Antwi-Nyame and Ronald Subowale coming on for Nathan Wood and Bamba, respectively. Hendon replied with Matty Newman taking over from Griffith.
The risk of making all the substitutions with 20 minutes remaining came back to Walton when Harry Mills picked up an injury. He was able to continue, albeit limping, but he could not be replaced.
Subowale almost made an immediate impact when he fired through a crowd of players. Boness, however, was perfectly placed and must have seen enough of the shot because he made another excellent save.
After Mbengui had replaced Dombaxe for the final 10 minutes, Boness made possibly his best save of the night, notwithstanding the one to save the penalty, with three minutes of normal time remaining. McCormack must have guessed he was destined not to score when his rasping drive towards the roof of the net was tipped over the bar at full stretch.
In the final minute of stoppage time, with the result no longer in doubt, Collins really should have netted a consolation when a cross reached him in acres of space. He rose with almost the whole goal to aim at, but put the effort a foot over the crossbar.