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Hendon put in a dominating second-half performance to overcome a 1–0 interval deficit against Wimborne Town and claim all three points at Silver Jubilee Park on Saturday afternoon. The Greens’ fourth league win of the season lifted them to ninth in the table, but there are ten teams within a point, level, one ahead or one behind.
Wimborne, who have yet to beat Hendon, slipped to the foot of the table following Kings Langley’s comfortable victory over Poole Town. Their young squad struggled to deal with the Greens, especially in the second half, and it looks as if it may be a long hard season for the Wiltshire club.
After eleven days without a game, Hendon made two changes from the eleven starters against Walton Casuals. Keiron Forbes and the suspended Wilson Carvalho dropped out and Riccardo Alexander-Greenaway and Joe White came in, while, on the bench, there were two new signings, Tafari Moore, who had experience at Arsenal, and Ronan Hutchins, on loan from Hampton & Richmond Borough.
After ten minutes of the two teams probing each other for weaknesses, Hendon upped the pressure. Hamza Semakula broke through, but he was denied by a brave save from Billy Terrell, an 18-year-old on a year’s loan from AFC Bournemouth and, from the resulting corner, Sam Dreyer saw his header cleared off the line.
Tommy Brewer was the next to go close with a header, but a brilliant save from Terrell kept the ball out. Another half-chance came Hendon’s way before, in the 29th minute they fell for a sucker punch at the other end.
A passage of sloppy passing resulted in the Greens conceding a corner, which was taken by Curtis Young and it picked out the unmarked Callum CHUGG. The central defender had no one within three yards of him and he directed a powerful header over the dive of Fred Burbidge and just under the crossbar.
The Greens took a while to recover from the setback, but Wimborne were happy to wait for counter-attacking chances rather than forcing home their advantage. In the 43rd minute, they pounced and Young should have doubled the lead when he had a clear shooting opportunity, but he struck the ball wide of the far post.
Hendon’s response to the lucky escape – Wimborne players felt they should have had a corner, but the referee gave a goal kick – by attacking and Semakula saw his deflected shot saved at full stretch by Terrell.
The visitors quickly lost possession and when the ball came back into the Wimborne box, a defender’s hand, away from his body, deflected the ball away. Under the modern interpretation, even accidental hand-balls are sanctioned, but the match official pointed to the corner flag.
Even then, it nearly resulted in a goal as Dreyer’s header was acrobatically cleared off the line by Tom Bragg. At half-time a Wimborne official summed up the opening 45 minutes: a tale of four corners, Hendon going close three times, and Wimborne scoring.
Before the start of the second half, George Devine took over from Alexander-Greenaway, giving Hendon a fifth attacking option alongside Jayden Clarke, Semakula, Liam Brooks and White. As a result, Christian Smith dropped into a more defensive midfield position.
It was quickly clear that the Wimborne defence was going to struggle with the numbers coming forward and it took less than four minutes for the equaliser to arrive. A ball was played forward to Brooks, who took possession as defenders around him appealed for offside.
The assistant referee’s flag stayed down and Brooks was faced by Terrell with all the defenders behind him. There was a hesitancy in Terrell as he approached BROOKS, so the striker hit the ball early and low into the corner.
Five minutes later, a mazy run from Clarke took him into the penalty area. After a give-and-go with Brooks, he fired in a low shot, but Terrell was equal to it, making a fine save low to his right by the post.
Just past the hour mark, White, making his first start of the season, was withdrawn and Kyen Nicholas came on in his place. It was an inspired substitution because, four minutes later, Nicholas had given Hendon the lead.
He took possession of the ball midway inside the Wimborne half, close to the left touchline. Looking up, Nicholas spotted a gap, held off a challenge, then beat another defender before laying the ball towards the feet of Brooks.
The challenge on Brooks ended his afternoon, but the one-two he completed with Nicholas was perfectly weight. Taking a touch to control the ball, NICHOLAS looked up and deftly flicked the ball over Terrell into the net.
As Hendon celebrated, Brooks received treatment, but he limped off, giving a debut to Hutchins. Having already scored a goal-of-the-season candidate, Nicholas almost added another in the 80th minute.
Taking a ball on his chest, Nicholas swivelled past a defender and smashed a shot from eight yards out. Anywhere on target away from Terrell’s body would have almost lifted the net off its moorings; unfortunately, the ball flashed over the crossbar.
Wimborne had created almost nothing in the second half and when Burbidge failed to deal with a cross, no blue-shirted player reacted quickly enough to capitalise on a possible half-chance.
Playing with increased confidence, Hendon looked dangerous from all angles. Lucas Perry and Simeon Olarerin caused consternation down the two flanks, the former happy to link with anyone close to him on the left side, the latter always keen to deliver tempting crosses in the middle of the box.
The Greens made the game safe with six minutes remaining. SEMAKULA took the ball forward and when, again, no defender came forward to stop him, he unleashed a sweet shot that eluded the grasping dive of Terrell.
In stoppage time, Hendon had a moment of alarm when a Wimborne player went down in the penalty area. From some distance away, there appeared to be contact with the striker, but the referee, instead, gave the free-kick and cautioned the Wimborne player for simulation. It rather summed up their afternoon of growing frustration.