Thurrock 0 Hendon 1: Ashley Nathaniel-George goal sees Greens sink Fleet
PUBLISHED: 10:00 18 February 2018 | UPDATED: 08:51 19 February 2018
Bostik Premier: Thurrock 0 Hendon 1 (Nathaniel-George 52)
Hendon returned from their trip to Thurrock with three Bostik League Premier Division points, and continued occupation of fourth place in the table. The Greens had to grind out the victory against the Fleet, but they had to work very hard for their deserved three points.
James Hammond, Keagan Cole and Niko Muir all came into the team, with Sam Murphy and Casey Maclaren dropping to the bench, Josh Walker was not in the 16 named for the game. When Maclaren replaced Cole just before half-time, he became the second member of this Hendon squad to reach 350 appearances,
The least said about the first half, the better. It was very poor fare with half a dozen attempts on goal, two which went directly at Ben McNamara and the other straight to Tom Lovelock. As for the other three, they were by some distance off target.
Both teams also had free-kicks in dangerous areas which did not come close to breaking the deadlock. There was also one right wing raid each, followed by low crosses which did not find a team-mate.
As the game reached half-time, Cole stretched for a ball just outside the Thurrock penalty area. The collision with a Fleet defender left Cole lying on the ground crying in pain. After a lengthy spell of treatment, he was helped off the field and even though there were a couple of minutes till the break, Maclaren replaced him for the last 30 seconds of the half.
The second half was the complete opposite of the first. There was action almost from the opening minute, and it was Hendon who set the pace.
In the 52nd minute, Joseph worked himself an opening and fired a shot which McNamara to push aside. Maclaren had the chance to get possession, but took the sensible option of letting the spinning ball curve over the goal-line close to the corner flag for a Hendon set-piece.
Joseph ran across to take the corner, with a pair of Thurrock defenders dutifully following him. The ball was played short to Ashley Nathaniel-George, who quickly got the better of the first marker.
Remi Sutton then tried to stop Nathaniel-George but his illegal challenge did little to stop the Hendon forward. Working himself a better angle, Nathaniel-George fired a magnificent low drive which gave McNamara no chance as the ball arrowed just inside the far post.
Three minutes later, the lead should have been doubled when Muir beat the Thurrock offside trap and had a clear run at goal, albeit from a wideish angle. McNamara came off his line, but Maclaren was making great yards into the middle of the penalty area.
The ball from Muir found Maclaren, but the power of the cross was such that, at full stretch, the midfielder could not keep the ball down and it flew over the crossbar. Had the pass been softer, there is little doubt that Maclaren would have celebrated his landmark match with his 52nd Hendon goal.
Suddenly, Thurrock roused themselves and Joel Nouble did well to get past Hammond before shooting powerfully at goal. Lovelock was equal to the attempt palming it aside for a corner.
Hendon didn’t clear the ball and Sutton, attempting to atone for his failure to stop Nathaniel-George, smashed a left-foot drive that seemed booked for the top left corner, until Lovelock tipped it away. It was an outstanding save.
The best chance for Thurrock came a few minutes later when Hammond went over the back of Lewwis Spence and, although the Fleet skipper was backing into the defender, the referee ruled it was a penalty. Jordan Clark took responsibility for the spot-kick but Lovelock guessed correctly and made a third fine save.
He was less assured at the corner which followed, but the ball ended up in the side netting and Hendon had a goal-kick.
Muir and Maclaren nearly combined for a second time, but this time Clark got just in front of Maclaren and the Hendon man was harshly penalised for the collision between the players – which injured neither man.
Joseph had a half-chance to add a second goal when Nathaniel-George found him in space just inside the penalty, but at an angle. A defender came across to cover, but Joseph was still able get off a shot, which McNamara saved at full stretch by his near post.
With seven minutes of normal time, Dan Uchechi replaced the previously booked Muir and he showed flashes of his skills out on the touchline. His good control also ensured that the Greens kept possession in the best possible place, close to the Thurrock corner flag.
Arthur Lee nearly made it two goals in two games when he rose high to meet a left-wing corner, but he could not quite direct the ball below the crossbar.
In stoppage time, of which there was five minutes, Hendon made their final change with Harly Wise replacing Joseph, but this was simply a way of breaking up play and strengthening the defensive end of the field, where Hammond, Sprague, Lee, Rian Bray, Dave Diedhiou and Luke Tingey held firm and Lovelock showed what Hendon had missed in January.
Thurrock: McNamara, Oseyemi (Dunn 81), Sutton, Peter, Clark, Goode, Morgan, Spence, Stimson, Winn, Nouble (Ogunrinde 71).
Subs: Smith, Weston, Cave.
Hendon: Lovelock, Hammond, Sprague, Tingey, Bray, Lee, Nathaniel-George, Cole (Maclaren 45), Z Joseph (Wise 90), Muir (Uchechi 83).
Subs: H Joseph, Murphy.