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Hendon overcame Hartley Wintney with a 4–0 victory that wasn’t as assured as the scoreline suggests. The difference between the two teams was that Hendon defended and attacked with purpose while the Row – lacking three strikers – did not take advantage of enterprising play in midfield and were defensively sloppy.
The Greens were forced into one change from Tuesday night’s draw with Hayes & Yeading United, the injured Simeon Olarerin replaced by Joe Howe. Dwade James took Howe’s place on the sub’s bench, alongside Tommy Brewer, Tommy Smith, Cheyce Grant and Luca Allinson.
Hartley Wintney made a good start and forced a couple of corners in the opening couple of minutes, but the Hendon defence, Rihards Matrevics behind Howe, Lucas Perry, and the outstanding Eddie Oshodi and Toby Byron, dealt with them. When the Greens showed what their attack looked like, the Row had no answer.
In the third minute, and Shaun Lucien made space for himself and when his cross came in, neither Joe Gater nor Matt Drage tracked White’s run, who ran unmarked towards into the middle of the penalty area. WHITE angled a looping a towards the far post, which it kissed before crossing the goalline.
In the ninth minute Rihards Matrevics made a good save to keep out a 25-yard drive from Dominic Griffiths. Powerfully struck, the ball swerved late but the big goalkeeper used his upper body block the shot.
Six minutes later, the Row forced another corner. It was half cleared, and the return ball into the penalty area was headed onto the top of the crossbar by Gater, though it didn’t really look like dropping into the goal.
Midway through the half, Lucien made an opening for himself, but his goalbound shot was deflected away for a corner. Oshodi’s effort was blocked by goalkeeper Tom Williams and the rebound fell to Jayden Clarke who was denied by a brilliant reflex save by the keeper at the expense of another corner.
The is one was played short to Lucien, who cut inside a defender and curled a shot towards the far corner. White came in to tap home from a yard or two out, but the ball eluded him – and Williams who had been rather unsighted by the forest of legs in front of him – was unable to make a save.
There was no real goal celebration from White, who pointed to LUCIEN, who got the credit for the goal. Two probably should have become three when Howe got a great shooting opportunity, but he rushed his effort and the ball sailed well wide of the goal.
Hendon and Matrevics were perhaps lucky not to be penalised for handball in the 38th minute, He came out his box to clear a dangerous through ball down the Hartley Wintney left, but the ball appeared to strike his hand which, although against his body, could certainly have been considered handball in the modern interpretations. The sanction against Matrevics could well have been critical.
On the stroke of half-time, Sam Argent had a good chance to reduce the arrears, but his effort was deflected away for a corner. The Hendon defence kept its discipline and cleared the set piece without much difficulty.
Early in the second half, White did well down the right wing and hit a low cross into the penalty area. Lucien and Clarke were both perfectly placed to turn the ball into the net, but a defender intervened and deflected the ball into Williams’ arms.
In the 49th minute, Hendon forced another corner on the right side. As Lucien curled the ball into the danger area Gater bundled over Oshodi but any thoughts of a possible penalty were rendered moot as BYRON imperiously crashed a header into the net.
Having already scored twice from corners, Hendon’s fourth goal, in the 51st minute, also came from a set piece in the quadrant, but this time it was the Row who were on the attack. The delivery from Josh Webb came to the edge of the six-yard box, from where Matrevics punched the ball beyond the penalty area.
Sol Sambou was fastest to react and he charged forward with a string of Row players struggling to keep up. As he crossed the half-way line, he had Lucien to his right on the wing, Clarke to his left, ten or so yards in from the touchline and White racing to join what was effectively a four-on-two raid.
Sambou took the best option, which was Clarke, who was onside by a matter of inches. Only Williams could stop CLARKE, and the young striker beat the goalkeeper with a perfectly-placed finish just inside the post.
Hendon should have been in cruise control from here, but the Row had a big chance to reduce the deficit in the 59th minute when Drage met a corner. His powerful header beat Matrevics, but his effort bounced off the underside of the crossbar and did not cross the goalline before a green-shirted player hacked the ball clear.
A minute later, Byron was cautioned for a foul on Toby Raggett, who had replaced the injured Griffiths. Tom Bird’s free-kick bounced off the legs of the defensive wall and the danger was cleared without further alarm.
Hendon made their three changes as Luca Allinson replaced Clarke, Grant came on for Lucien and James took over from Matt Ball, who had worked well with Sam Corcoran in the centre of midfield. The Row also completed their chances as Josh Eatwell and Nathan Smart were introduced at the expense of Lukas Burt and Webb, respectively.
The Greens then had a penalty appeal as a shot from White struck the hand of Gater. It was probably as much a handball as the one not given against Matrevics and this one, too, was waved away.
Six minutes from the end of normal time, Grant was brought down on the edge of the box by Bird, who was shown a yellow card. With Lucien already substituted, the free-kick was taken by Allinson, but his attempt sailed over the crossbar.
Matrevics made a couple of routine saves as Hartley Wintney battled for a consolation goal. However, they nearly conceded a fifth goal in the first minute of stoppage time as Grant rifled a shot past Williams, but the ball flashed inches wide of the far post.