Hendon produced easily their most comprehensive performance of the last couple of seasons as they overcame Weston-Super-Mare 4-0 at Silver Jubilee Park on a sunny Saturday afternoon. That said, even if the 4-0 scoreline was little flattering, the victory was, without question, thoroughly deserved.
Luke Tingey and Andronicos Georgiou came into the starting line-up at the expense of Joe Howe and Kingsley Eshun. The latter was joined on the bench by new signing by Simeon Olarerin - though they proved to be the two not to be used.
The Seagulls train on a 3G pitch but their officials admitted that they do not have much confidence playing actual matches on the surface. This discomfiture was clear from the early going and Liam Brooks forced Luke Purnell into a save in just the second minute.
Five minutes later, from another Hendon attack, the ball came into the penalty area and Shaun Lucien, on the turn, tried his luck. He, however, could not keep his effort down and the ball cleared the crossbar.
In the ninth minute, Hendon forced a corner and Tom Smith outjumped everyone at the far post. From a very acute angle, his header narrowly missed the post, much to the rocking Seagulls' relief.
In the 17th minute, there was anther scramble in the Weston-Super-Mare penalty area, although there were no shots on goal until a defender conceded a corner. Once more, Smith leapt higher, but again, he was off-target with his header.
Five minutes later, Georgiou drilled a shot which Purnell parried. The goalkeeper was quick to regather as Solomon Sambou sniffed the chance of a rebound.
Not long after that, Hendon were given a warning. James Waite attacked down the left side, beat Tingey and crossed low into the penalty area. Bradley Ash tried a shot but miskicked and the ball fell to an unmarked Nick McCootie, who really should have done much better than smearing the ball over the crossbar from barely five yards out.
The lesson was learned because when Hendon won a corner in the 28th minute, they made it pay. Greg Tindle came out of defence to win a header in midfield, but a team-mate beat him to the ball and misheaded it to Sergio Manesio, who quickly sent Brooks into space.
With Tindle caught out of position, the Seagulls were happy to concede a corner. The ball was curled into the penalty area, where it bounced around, until TINGEY took control and lashed it into the roof of the net.
Having dominated the first 35 minutes, Weston finally began to show what they could do on a consistent basis. Waite had a shot saved at full stretch by Rihards Matrevics and, shortly after, Ash had a goal disallowed for offside, a decision the striker was convinced was incorrect.
In the 41st minute, a magnificent ball from Scott Laird sent Ash into space, but he was bundled over by Matrevics. Laird took the penalty and struck the ball low and hard. Matrevics, however, redeemed himself with truly outstanding penalty save.
Hendon have struggled to put together two good halves in a match and they needed to so if they were going to claim the points. Georgiou had the first chance, five minutes into the period, when he was put through by Eddie Oshodi, but Purnell spread himself well and made a sprawling save.
A quick counter-attack gave the Seagulls a chance to equalise, but Waite fired wide of the target. The three Weston forwards probed hard, but Tingey, Lucas Perry, Smith and Oshodi were in resolute mood.
Play went to the other end and good approach play from Lucien and Brooks gave Georgiou another chance. Once again Purnell won the battle, making another good save.
After 57 minutes, Tindle picked up an injury and, after treatment limped to the sideline. He was determined to return to the fray but, still limping, he could not deal with a huge downfield kick from Matrevics.
Given a half-chance to break clear, BROOKS produced a sublime touch flicking the ball over his head get clear of the struggling centre-back. He brought the ball down with deft control and finished emphatically. Although they had a bit of breathing space, Hendon fans were all to aware that they had led 2-0 on the opening day, only for Weston-Super-Mare to equalise deep in stoppage time.
This time there was no comeback and, four minutes, later, Brooks went from scorer to provider. He turned up on the left side, ran into the penalty area and set up Joe FELIX, who had just replaced Sambou, and he scored his first Hendon goal.
The Seagulls were back to rocking, and Purnell made a great save to keep out a header from Brooks. But they were still a force in attack and Ash twice forced Matrevics into saves, firstly with a rising drive - caught just below the crossbar - then with a low shot, which the keeper dealt with more confidently than in recent games.
This was the signal for Hendon to replace Georgiou, while Weston made their second and third changes, one of which saw the hobbling Tindle finally make way, but the damage had been done. In fact, it quickly got worse for the visitors.
With 15 minutes to go, a half-cleared ball fell to Corcoran, who controlled the ball and smashed the ball goalwards from 25 yards. Purnell, at full stretch, may have got a touch on the ball as it hit the post, but could do nothing as the rebound struck him on the back and bounced into the net.
In the FA Cup in October, Hendonâ€™s Chris Grace fell victim to similar own goal in the 5-4 defeat against Hayes & Yeading United. It is a terribly harsh own goal to be debited with and equally unfortunate for the ball-striker not to get credit for his effort.
Weston-Super-Mare deserve a lot of credit for not giving up and Matrevics was forced into making two or three more good saves. In addition, the Greens defenders were very brave in putting their bodies on the line to preserve the clean sheet, one such incident seeing three shots blocked before Matrevics made a save.
To paraphrase the allusion, one win does not a turnaround make, but this was a clear statement of intent. Hendon are now three, five and six points clear of the bottom three and only six behind 12th-placed Merthyr Town seven places above them. Equally important, the four-goal victory gave the Greens a vastly superior goal-difference compared to the other bottom-five teams.
Speaking on the clubâ€™s website TV station, a delighted manager Lee Allinson said, "I said to the players that as long as they work hard, then we will be alright. In life, nothing is given to you, but if you work for it you eventually your fortunes will change.
"And, today, I thought we were very good. It was our most complete performance since I have been here. I think it could have been more. I thought our goalkeeper was outstanding today.
"The penalty-save was a turning point because you need a little bit of luck in football. He is only 21 and I have a lot of faith in him.
"We were very worthy winners today. We dominated and we kept the ball very well, unlike in recent matches. To come away with three points today I am over the moon.
"If we can play like we did today and in the first half on Wednesday, I am sure the results will come."