Hendon ended their worst-ever start to a league season with a 3–1 victory over neighbours Harrow Borough on Tuesday night. The win lifted the Greens off the foot of the Pitching In Southern League Premier Division South table, a point and a place above Borough, and into 20th.
Frank Keita – who joined Hendon from Harrow last season – came into the starting line-up at the expense of Robbie Buchanan, who dropped to the bench. It was the only change from the team which had beaten Wingate & Finchley at the weekend, earning an FA Cup third round qualifying place – which will be a home tie against Isthmian League Premier Division strugglers Herne Bay on 1 October.
In the first minute, a nasty challenge by Olatunbosun Adenola on Gio Palmer resulted in the Hendon man receiving treatment, but home player escaped a caution. His team, however, was punished less than a minute after play resumed.
An attack down the Hendon right involved Keita, Liam Brooks and Dave Diedhiou with the last-named delivering a deep cross to the far post. Joe WHITE sneaked behind Shaun Preddie and nodded the ball into the net from close range, a goal finished in much the same manner as his equaliser at Potton United.
Three minutes later, Keita went into the penalty, where a defender’s trailing leg upended him. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot and WHITE drilled the ball beyond Charles Taylor’s dive.
Harrow were shell-shocked and it took a while for them to display any sort of attacking cohesion. Desperate to get into the game Harrow’s forwards all too often started their runs behind Tarik Moore-Azille and Guri Demuria too early, and fell foul of the assistant referee’s flag. Solomon Sambou and Arthur Iontton successfully broke up Harrow’s attempts to play the ball through midfield so they resorted to long balls forward.
Rohdell Gordon, linking with Palmer, and Keita, combining Dave Diedhiou, enjoyed significant success attacking down the flanks but some brave blocks and ill-judged passes failed to realise a third goal. Brooks had two great chances to score before half-time, first, in the 29th minute, firing into the side-netting, though it looked as if he had snatched at the shot. His failure, nine minutes later, was much worse.
He was inside his own half when a corner was cleared downfield and Brooks was alone in the centre circle with 60 yards of Harrow real estate between him and a first goal of his second Hendon spell. Brooks rounded Taylor as George Moore and Imran Uche tracked back, hesitated as Uche slipped, and watched Moore produce a miraculous goal-line block.
In the 40th minute, Moore rolled the ball Marcin Brzozowski into the Hendon net, but his celebrations were rapidly stilled as the referee spotted his assistant’s flag was raised and disallowed the goal. It was a warning to the Greens that this game was far from won, especially those who recalled Hendon’s comeback from a 2–0 half-time deficit in the same fixture last season.
Breathing room came two minutes into the second half when Palmer made a storming run down the left flank and cut the ball back into the path of BROOKS, who swept the ball imperiously into the net. Memories of Brooks’ first-half miss were instantly erased as he celebrated his goal.
Harrow, who had made one substitution at half-time, made their other two a dozen minutes into the second half, Steve Baker, with nothing to lose gambling on getting a goal back and giving Hendon a nervous period to hang on. The move worked in the 62nd minute, when Billy Leonard made himself space just outside the Greens’ penalty area and precisely shot into the bottom corner.
For the next 15–20 minutes, Hendon looked uncomfortable and offered little in attack. Harrow, meanwhile for all their pressure, didn’t get many shots on target and Brzozowski made a few saves of the routine kind, but did well to keep out an effort from Kai Omoko Brosnan.
The Greens made their three changes in the last 20 minutes, Robbie Buchanan taking over from cramp victim Keita and Josh Dawodu and Bobson Bawling coming on for Diedhiou and Brooks, respectively as Lee Allinson looked to wind down the final minutes. In truth, Harrow had rather run out steam and ideas even before the lsat two Hendon changes and Hendon looked more likely to add to their lead than see it reduced further.
In the 82nd minute, Buchanan’s energy unsettled the Borough defence and he nearly scored for a third consecutive game when a neat one-two gave him a clear run at goal, but Taylor saved bravely. A few minutes later, with almost his last contribution of the match, Brooks watched his powerful effort well saved by the goalkeeper.