Hendon produced a performance of great purpose and verve in downing St. Albans City 3-1 at Clarence Park on Tuesday night.
Warren Kelly was absent ill and Paul Adolphe and Ross Pickett were reduced to substitute roles, alongside David Adekola, as the three regular subs this season, Marvyn Watson, Dale Binns and Bontcho Guentchev, were given starts in a revamped playing system.
It paid dividends after just 5 minutes when GUENTCHEV shot from 15 yards out. Lawrence Batty was at full stretch to make the save, but the ball struck Davis HAULE on the thigh and went into the opposite corner.
After 17 minutes, Haule outjumped Richard Goddard at a corner from Iain Duncan, but his effort struck the post with Batty scrambling in vain across his goal. It proved just the stroke of good fortune Saints were looking for, because they equalised within four minutes.
They had enjoyed a spell of pressure while Hendon struggled to clear the ball. It was returned to beyond the right post and Junior Samuels rose high to win an aerial challenge. He headed the ball across the penalty area where Gary ANSELL was waiting and he rifled the ball into the corner of the net.
The goal lifted St Albans and Hendon were on the rack for about 10 minutes. However, the nearest either team came to adding a second goal came in the 39th minute when Simon Clarke curled a corner off the top of the crossbar. Haule then shot just over the crossbar after a good run.
With the slope in their favour Hendon started the second half confidently and were rewarded with a second goal just 5 minutes after the restart. Looking for an opening just outside the penalty area, the ball was laid into CLARKE's path. He struck it beautifully but a goalkeeper with the experience that Batty can boast really should have done better. The former England Non-League international was undone by the swerve and he could do no more than help the ball into the net.
Moments after Adolphe had replaced Watson, Batty was beaten again. This time it was Haule who created space himself and, from 20 yards, tried his luck. Batty was slow in getting down and HAULE's shot squirmed under his body into the net.
Try as St Albans might, they could not get back into the game and their attacks foundered on the rocks of defence, Paul Towler and Gary Fitzgerald, augmented by Phil Gridelet, who was a massive presence in midfield with Jon Daly. Richard Wilmot had to make only one save in the second half as St Albans ran out of ideas.
Hendon could even afford to finish with three strikers on the pitch, with Adekola making his debut and Pickett also joining the fray. A number of Hendon raids inconvenienced St Albans defenders but no shots were on target.
Manager Frank Murphy was delighted with the result but less happy with the overall performance. "I don't think we passed the ball that well tonight. We have played better in a couple of our draws," he said.