Search

Hendon boss gives Green light for play-off challenge ahead of Ryman League opener

08:00 07 August 2014

Hendon manager Gary McCann. Pic: Andrew Aleksiejczuk

Hendon manager Gary McCann. Pic: Andrew Aleksiejczuk

Archant

Hendon manager Gary McCann is targeting the play-offs as the Greens prepare to kick off their Premier Division campaign at home against Bury Town on Saturday.

Former Hendon captain Scott Cousins has joined the club's management team. Pic: Andrew AleksiejczukFormer Hendon captain Scott Cousins has joined the club's management team. Pic: Andrew Aleksiejczuk

Last season, the Dons were the form team during the middle two-thirds of the campaign, but they will be looking to improve on their record at the start and finish and consistency will be the keyword for the manager as he aims for a place in the top five.

“The play-offs are a reasonable target, and we have to get the players to buy into it,” said McCann, who will complete a decade in charge of the club in February. “There is a strong belief in the camp that it can be achieved.

“The start of the season is key for us, as it is for every team. The players are fully aware of it and we left ourselves too much to do after the poor start [last season].

“One of the reasons we fell away at the end of last season was the amount of effort we spent playing catch-up, and niggles and injuries caught up with us. But I honestly believe that this group of players can achieve the play-offs.”

Hendon have endured much turmoil since McCann took charge, losing their Claremont Road home in 2008 and then spending four full seasons at Wembley. This is the second at Earlsmead, the home of Harrow Borough.

However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel since new director Rob Morris came on board in February this year.

Hendon will now be running more than a dozen youth teams, based at what was Kingsbury Town’s old Silver Jubilee Park ground – which Morris part-owns and is currently being refurbished to include a 3G playing surface.

The plans are for it to be the Greens’ regular training base and, hopefully, a regular home some time in the future.

On the field, most of last season’s squad have agreed to stay on, but the Dons have lost Jack Bennett, Michael Bryan, Anthony Thomas, Berkley Laurencin and earlier departure Jefferson Louis.

Coach Junior Lewis has also left to take up the same role with Leeds United in the Championship, being replaced in the management team by former club captain Scott Cousins, who joins McCann, his assistant Freddie Hyatt and sports therapist Mark Findley.

Cousins will be registered as a player but, having missed most of last season through injury, he has concentrated on the training side in pre-season and will play only in an emergency.

Incoming players include strikers Kezie Ibe and Richard Worrell – who has moved across north London from Haringey Borough – as well as midfielders Peter Dean, who is returning for a second spell at the club, Tom O’Regan, Andre Da Costa and Sam Murphy.

The Dons’ defence was a source of strength for most of the last campaign and there has only been one addition to the rearguard.

Ollie Sprague was dually registered in 2013–14, making his debut in April – and he joins Chris Seeby, Casey Maclaren, James Fisher, Elliott Brathwaite and Sam Flegg in the back line.

Captain Kevin Maclaren will anchor the midfield with Lee O’Leary, who has had an excellent pre-season, while Dean, Tony Taggart and Michael Murray will operate further forward. The Greens also have Max McCann in midfield and the versatile Dave Diedhiou, who can fill in at full-back and in the centre of defence.

It will be tough for Hendon to replace the 43 goals that they have lost with the departures of Thomas and Louis.

However, Ibe, Leon Smith, Aaron Morgan and Adam Wallace have plenty of experience in the Ryman Premier League and new signing Worrell was prolific at the end of last season for Haringey Borough in the Essex Senior League.

In goal is likely to be youngster George Legg, who is currently an apprentice at Championship club Reading. He has played in most of the games during pre-season and would be on loan from the Royals.

0 comments

Comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hampstead Highgate Express visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hampstead Highgate Express staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hampstead Highgate Express account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Sport Stories

Jan Vertonghen (right) in action against Brighton at White Hart Lane last night

Lifting the Capital One Cup could be the key to unlocking Tottenham’s potential, giving them a winning mentality and providing the spark that takes the club on to bigger things, according to Jan Vertonghen.

Yesterday, 09:00
Nils Mordt in action for Saracens. Pic by Christopher Lee/Getty Images

Nils Mordt is looking forward to taking to the field with Saracens’ young stars as they kick off their LV= Cup campaign with a London derby against Harlequins on Sunday.

Yesterday, 08:30
The jubilant Highgate Harriers squad

Highgate Harriers swept the board with a devastating display at the North of Thames cross-country championships in Kingsbury on Saturday.

Yesterday, 08:00
Ben Scott bats for Hampstead in the Middlesex County Cricket League. Pic: Max Flego

Hampstead CC’s former Middlesex wicketkeeper Ben Scott has been included in the MCC squad to tour Japan during the next 10 days.

Most read sport

A 53-year-old man has been arrested in connection with a fire at a fireworks warehouse which left two people missing. Staffordshire Police said the two people remain “unaccounted for” following the fire which broke out at the industrial unit at about 5.15pm yesterday. The force said it was in contact with the missing people’s family […]

To steal the budget store’s own puns, isn’t it a Lidl surprising that their Christmas food is so good?

These images show the lava’s path from a sky-high vantage point.

Would a prominent calorie label on your booze make you think twice before tanking up?

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Hampstead & Highgate Express e-edition today E-edition