Hendon began their pre-season campaign with a hard-earned 4-2 win at Isthmian League Division 1 South Central side Bracknell Town on Saturday afternoon thanks in large part to a superb hat-trick from winger Shaun Lucien. Of the new signings, Dwade James started up front and Cheyce Grant wide on the right, the returning Matt Ball was on the bench alongside another familiar face in trialist Ollie Sprague, currently available after leaving Romford.
In oppressively hot temperatures both sides put on an impressive show with the hosts having the better of the opening stages, Jonathan North being forced into an excellent block after a ball had found its way in behind the Hendon back four.
The Greens took the lead midway through the half when Cheyce Grant beat his full-back and sent over a tempting deep cross to the far post. It was met by trialist Samrai Gebrai whose header was helped into the net off the goalkeeper’s midriff as he spread himself to try and block. Gebrai became the 17th man to sign terms for the new season after the game having spent most of the last two seasons with Walthamstow.
10 minutes before the break Bracknell equalised with a powerful header at the far post back across goal and into the top corner – North getting a hand to the effort, but unable to keep it out. The Hendon goalkeeper then had a further chance to excel, diving full length to push away a low strike from outside the penalty area.
Lee Allinson made nine changes at the break – the tenth occurred just before half-time when Matt Ball replaced Liam Brooks, who picked what looked like an ankle knock – only Lucas Perry played the full ninety minutes.
Bracknell took the lead when Matt Ball was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the 6-yard box and although Harry Harrisean made a superb block from the spot kick, the ball rebounded kindly and was calmly stroked home.
Joe White then conjured up a superb effort out of nothing with a 25-yard shot that beat the goalkeeper all ends up but crashed back off the crossbar, he then turned provider gathering Ball’s pass and sending Lucien clear, the winger’s dinked finish high into the net was as deft as it was impudent.
A couple of minutes later and Lucien had an effort blocked by the Robins’ goalkeeper, White nipped in onto the rebound and was cleaned out by the home custodian. Lucien stepped up from the spot and sent the keeper the wrong way to restore Hendon’s advantage.
Late on the winger put the icing on the cake by curling a free-kick that was no more than a yard outside the penalty area, around the wall and into the net to complete a fine hat-trick and cap an excellent work out for Allinson’s men.