Hendon scored a stoppage time equaliser to earn a well-deserved draw against St Ives Town in the Greens’ last friendly before the season starts next weekend.
On paper, this was the ideal late-preseason matchup, both teams winning their battle against relegation at the end of 2022–23, Hendon in the Southern League South Premier Division and St Ives in the Southern League Midland Premier Division.
The Saints made a great start when Greg Kasaboni arrowed an 18-yard strike into the bottom corner after a headed clearance of a Martin Richens free-kick reached only the edge of the Greens’ penalty area. KASABONI was not closed down quickly enough, allowing him to pick his spot.
Richens nearly made it 2–0 with a sweetly struck 28-yard free-kick, but it was tipped onto the underside of the crossbar by Matt Kerbey. The ball bounced down almost on the goal-line and it favoured Hendon, going back into the six-yard box before being cleared.
Niko Muir produced a moment of fine skill to level matters midway through the half. Receiving the ball just outside the St Ives penalty area, he danced through three tacklers, before flicking the ball beyond former Yaxley goalkeeper Kacper Kurylowicz.
Hendon probably should have taken the lead before the break as Muir had a shot blocked by a forest of Saints legs and the rebound was squirted wide. Hamza Semakula then had a shot acrobatically pushed aside by Kurylowicz.
The second half was rather more scrappy, probably because of a number of changes being made, and, in truth, it cost Hendon dearly. After 70 minutes, the Greens made a second raft of changes and, within a couple of minutes, they were caught out.
The new formation lost their bearings and it allowed Tyrone Baker to do some good work down the left wing. His cross was beautifully weighted and no defender covered the run of Kasaboni, who stooped to head the ball past Kerbey.
Hendon made more changes in the final few minutes and the replacements, including Shaun Lucien and Frank Keita had some half chances to draw level, but either poor decisions to shoot or pass, or brave blocks kept the Saints’ lead intact.
However, in the third minute of stoppage time, Trialist A – who had scored as Trialist C in the 7–0 win at AFC Welwyn on Thursday night – rose high and was barely challenged as he powerfully headed a corner past Saint Ives’ substitute trialist goalkeeper and defenders on the line.
[Addendum : Following the signing of Finlay MacNab from Hanworth Villa on 8th September 2023, it was noted that he was the trialist - referred to as Trialist A in the report above - wearing #12 who replaced Blaise Riley-Snow in this match; he scored the late equaliser. The line-up and scorers have been amended on 11th September to reflect this.]