Hendon bounced back from their weekend humbling at the hands of Truro City with their most complete performance of the season so far to pick up a first Southern League win of the campaign at Walton Casuals.
There was a return to the club for Toby Byron after a spell at Hertford Town in the second half of last season and he came in for the injured Tommy Brewer alongside the also returning Eddie Oshodi, now recovered from illness, who replaced Tommy Smith. Elsewhere Jayden Clarke replaced Sam Corcoran who dropped to the bench.
This was a meeting of two winless sides, not that you'd have known it from the way that both sides set themselves up to try and attack. Where one might have expected a cagey, nervy affair they were treated to an open and entertaining contest.
It was the home side that opened more brightly, Adam Coombes dragged an early shot wide of the post and Tayshan Hayden-Smith was betrayed by a heavy touch that allowed Jonathan North to gather when a better one would have left him with a simple finish.
Hendon's answer on 7 minutes was against the run of play but after neat build-up involving Shaun Lucien and Simeon Olalerin down the right hand side saw the ball stood up to the far post where it was met by the head of Joe WHITE who directed his header just inside the post to open his account for the campaign.
Both sides threatened from dead balls, Oshodi swept an effort into the side netting after a free-kick into the box whilst Walton had a number of promising deliveries into the box, particularly from the boot of left-back James O'Halloran, but Oshodi and Byron were well up to the challenge and dealt well with almost everything. The one time that the ball did fall for Kyen Nicholas in front of goal, Oshodi made an imperious goal-saving challenge inside the 6-yard box.
The second goal arrived on 26 minutes and had a degree of fortune about it. Neat build-up from the visiting side was rewarded when Brooks knocked it back into the path of Lucien who found room to fire a left-footed effort at goal. It took a wicked deflection off a defender that took it beyond Denzel Gerrar's dive and into the bottom corner of the net.
Hendon then wrestled control of the match with Matt Ball particularly prominent in midfield. He twice went close, firstly dragging a left-footed shot from 25-yards a yard wide of the post and then cutting infield onto his right foot and unleashing a powerful low strike that made loving contact with the outside of the post on its way behind for a goal kick.
Kieron Forbes also went deceptively close to his first Hendon goal when his cross drifted inches over the crossbar and rippled the back of the netting. From some angles it appeared that the ball had fallen under the bar and into the net leading to some cheers from the visiting support along the side and in the main stand that were swiftly curtailed.
After the break, Hendon went in search of the third goal that would in all likelihood seal the three points. Oshodi did extremely well to head a Ball free-kick back across goal at the far post, alas, just behind Byron before Lucien's effort was blocked by a sprawling orange shirted body for a corner kick.
At the other end, Walton continued to threaten with Perry required to make a superb challenge on Coombes before North made his first save of the evening pushing Akers' follow-up wide for a corner.
It was from a Walton corner that Hendon did grab the third goal. Oshodi headed the ball clear and it was picked up by Brooks who played it forward for Lucien to run onto. The winger showed a perfect weight of pass for OLALERIN, who had made a lung-stretching run forward in support, and the young full-back, clear on goal, sent a beautifully judged lob over the stranded Gerrar and into the back of the net.
For the next quarter of an hour the visiting side were in almost complete control and looking like they could score at will. To Walton's credit they dug in and found a way back into the contest with 9 minutes remaining when substitute Gabriel Odunalke beat the Hendon offside trap and beat North with a neat finish from just outside the penalty area.
Buoyed by the goal, Walton looked to lay siege to the Hendon goal but Oshodi and Byron once again took the sting out of the tumult of balls into the box, Oshodi in particular very much back to his best. As time drifted away, so the home side's efforts became more rushed, desperate and overhit meaning that Hendon were able to see out the final ten minutes or so with a degree of comfort to pick up a well earned 3-points.