Hendon opened their preseason campaign with a friendly against Southend United on Thursday with the expectation that Shrimpers boss David Webb would be putting out the full first team.
Mr Webb kept his part of the bargain and Southend enjoyed a comfortable 4-0 victory over the Greens. The difference between the two teams was apparent from the opening exchanges as the full-timers, with a couple of weeks of training behind them, were quickly into their stride. Part-timers Hendon, with just two sessions to remove the excesses of summer, struggled from the outset. New Hendon manager, Dave Anderson, revealed his two summer signings, Ricci Crace (from Ware) and John-Barrie Bates (Harrow Borough), as well as two triallists, Mark Turner (Chertsey Town) and Youness Nabil (Boreham Wood).
Their unfamiliarity with the other players was clear, but it was no surprise when Mark RAWLE, a ÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½60,000 signing in February, opened the scoring, and only four minutes later, BRAMBLE scored Southend's second goal, similarly capitalising on some miscommunication in the Hendon defence.
In attack, Ross Pickett went close with a header as the Southend defence dithered, but chances were few and far between. Crace was quickly closed down when he worked an opening for himself. His speed may well cause Ryman League defences problems.
The first of the 27 changes made by the two teams came midway through the half when Davis Haule replaced Pickett. Eight minutes later, Melvin Capleton, a cousin of Hendon player Simon Clarke, took over in goal for Southend and before half-time, Stephen Broad came on for Phil Whelan.
On the stroke of half-time, Hendon's defence failed to deal with a raid and when the ball came out to Kevin MAHER, he struck a fine low drive into the corner.
The main raft of changes came at half-time, with Hendon introducing goalkeeper Ray Ford, Richard Dee, Dale Binns, Otis Roberts, Rhodri Harvey, Dave Stewart and Gary Fitzgerald. Later changes included a brief return for Nabil, and a run-out for Paul Towler and Pat Sappleton. Southend also made a number of substitutions but it was RAULE who scored his second to put the score at 4-0 after 52 minutes.
With an hour gone, Capleton made way for goalkeeper Daniel Gay and the new signing showed what he could do by brilliantly parrying a free-kick from Davis Haule. It was the closest that Hendon would come to finding a way past Southend.
The Shrimpers were content to play out the rest of time playing pretty passing patterns and displaying a level of comfort on the ball that so often separates the pros from the part-timers.
What must not pass without comments was the fact that the pitch, stripped of a complete layer of soil and reseeded, looked, save for a couple of bare patches, in excellent condition. Everybody at Hendon hopes that the problems of last season do not recur in 2001-02.
"It was a good blow-out for the boys tonight," admitted Mr Anderson. "We have only had two training sessions, so we were very rusty."