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Hendon welcomed National League South Billericay Town for their final home preseason friendly and, at least in the second half, gave them more than a few problems. It was not quite enough as the Blues came away 2Ã¢Â€Â“1 winners, though all three goals came from defensive gaffes.
Billericay kicked up the slope in the first half and looked the more dangerous as an attacking force, but the front pair of Moses Emmanuel and Jake Robinson do boast more than 900 games and 225 goals at Conference South and above. Hendon looked uneasy defending set pieces and after one header went over the crossbar, in the 20th minute, Charlie Wassmer was denied by a superb save from Luke Sheldrick.
The Greens got little change out of the Billericay back three and Kam English really need more help than the occasional forays forward from Trialist B and Matty Newman. It was the last-named who had Hendon's best first-half effort, seven minutes before the break, a long-range effort that was comfortably saved by Alan Julian.
By this time, Hendon were trailing, having just fallen behind. From a Greens attack, the ball was cleared downfield and found Emmanuel running into a huge gap between two defenders.
Sheldrick came off his line, but was never going to reach the ball. He then could only watch as EMMANUEL lifted the ball over him from 25 yards out, then saw it dip under the crossbar and into the net.
Just before half-time, Hendon lost Trialist B to an injury and Trialist D replaced him. After the break both teams made multiple changes, Billericay four of them and the Greens five.
Although Tambeson Eyong, Adam Cunnington and Jack Paxman all have much experience at higher levels of non-league football and the League, the team's balance was not as good. Hendon, meanwhile, with Ryan Hope, Matty Harriott, Connor Calcutt and Ogo Obi going forward, looked much more threatening.
Uncompromising defending nearly cost Billericay dearly. They twice committed fouls on the edge of their penalty area and Obi drilled two free-kicks, one bringing a superb save from Julian the other flashing past a post with Julian unable to get close to the ball had it been just inside the upright.
After the second near-miss, Julian screamed at his team-mates, "No more fouls." With Wassmer and Eyong playing in front of him, there was little to no chance of his wish being granted.
Billericay were still capable of causing problems and Alfie Potter forced Sheldrick into another good save from a long-range shot. On the hour, a careless pass in midfield cost Hendon dearly.
CUNNINGTON was quick to latch onto the loose ball, ran forward and then, from around 25 yards drove a shot beyond Sheldrick's dive into the bottom corner. Questions had to be asked as to why no player was close enough to the goalscorer to if not tackle him, at least close him down and make the shot more difficult.
Howard Hall took an accidental kick to the face and left the game with 20 minutes remaining, Dan Williams replacing him as Hendon reshuffled. Billericay, too, had reshuffled as they made their last two changes midway through half.
The Blues lost their shape over the next few minutes and they paid the price when Harriott picked up a sloppy pass midway inside the Billericay half. He ran forward and had the unmarked Calcutt to his right and Obi to his left.
HarriottÃ¢Â€Â™s pass went to OBI, and he needed no second bidding to lift the ball over the advancing Julian into the net.
Another free-kick, this one a little further out - and wider - than Obi's earlier efforts, might have been what Hendon wanted, but they elected to cross the ball into the danger area and Billericay cleared the ball.
Paxman nearly made it 3Ã¢Â€Â“1 six minutes from the end when he burst forward. Again without anyone stopping him or slowing him down, he was able to get into shooting range and his strike stung the palms of Sheldrick, who knocked the ball down before regathering.
Hendon had one last chance to get a draw but when Billericay failed to clear an attack, Trialist DÃ¢Â€Â™s speculative 25-yard strike sailed high over the crossbar.