Hendon bounced back from the two disappointing defeats suffered in the past 4 days with a comprehensive 4-0 demolition of already relegated Dulwich Hamlet at LOOT Stadium on Wednesday night.
Referee Mr G O'Sullivan (Surrey) was close to postponing the match when a downpour left a couple of small puddles above ground and the whole pitch varying between sodden and unspeakably heavy. However, managers Frank Murphy (Hendon) and Gwynne Berry (Dulwich) both expressed a desire to get the game played and Mr O'Sullivan let the game go ahead.
It took just 22 seconds for Mr Berry wish the game had not started, because a second earlier, David Adekola had given Hendon the lead. Dale Binns started the move and his pass to Davis Haule was knocked down. ADEKOLA latched onto the ball and lashed it with left foot past Craig Tucker.
After two games without a goal, it was just the start Hendon needed and the confidence so lacking at Basingstoke and Croydon came flooding back. Tucker was a full stretch to keep out two long-range efforts as Dulwich's defence was - almost literally - all at sea.
In the 30th minute, Hendon were forced into making a change when Haule limped off, to be replaced by Bontcho Guentchev. The 36-year-old thus was the only Hendon man to play his 5th match in 7 days. Dulwich, too, had been forced into making an early change, Joe Nartey coming on for the injured Danny Minors.
Guentchev's outstanding feet were evident for Hendon's second goal, in the 39th minute. A long-range shot took a couple of deflections before landing at the Bulgarian's feet. He instantly brought the ball under control, stopped, watched one defender slide past making contact with nothing more than fresh air, let another miss with a flailing challenge and was clean through on goal.
Tucker said, "I don't know how he kept his feet, but I tried to make myself big for as long as possible. As soon as I went down he put it past me." The keeper felt somewhat better when he learned of GUENTCHEV's past career. "He's beaten better keepers than me then," he noted drily.
Hendon's third goal, a magnificent run and shot from Binns after 58 minutes, was more clearly an error of judgement by Tucker. He made no attempt to get to BINNS' shot across the face of goal from the edge of the penalty area, but the ball struck the inside of the post and went in. He did reckon that even if he had dived he would not have got close to it.
More outstanding footwork from Guentchev, on an even more treacherous part of the pitch, set up goal No. 4, Adekola's second. Once again, the Bulgarian kept his head and feet as defenders all around were losing theirs and he slipped a short pass to ADEKOLA, who rifled a 12-yard shot past Tucker.
Although Dulwich did hit the top of the crossbar with a cross-come-shot, which Gary McCann was confident he had covered, their attack foundered in the face of solid work from Chris Sparks, Gary Fitzgerald and Rene Street. Marvyn Watson and Simon Clarke linked by Paul Adolphe and Binns to good effect, while Jason Soloman had one of his more effective games in midfield.
Richard Dee and Otis Roberts replaced Sparks and Adolphe, respectively, and even though Hendon rather lost their shape, they still had a number of chances but could not find a 5th goal.
"The early goal was just what we wanted," admitted Mr Murphy after the game. "Bontcho showed incredible balance out there. And Binns was electric."