Bostik Premier: Hendon 2 Met Police 0
PUBLISHED: 07:49 01 April 2018 | UPDATED: 07:49 01 April 2018
Hendon moved into fourth place in the Bostik Premier with a 2–0 victory over Metropolitan Police at Silver Jubilee Park on Easter Saturday.
Watched by a heartening crowd of 277 – given the holidays and dismal weather forecast, it was well above the estimate – the Greens had to play more than 50 minutes with only 10 men.
The 11 who had started against Billericay a week earlier all kept their places as the bench showed a few alterations, with William Murphy, Casey Maclaren and Malachy McGovern making way for Sam Murphy, Oliver Sprague and Dan Uchechi.
After 12 minutes, Arthur Lee was caught in mid-air by Brandon Diau and landed very awkwardly. He required several minutes of treatment before being led to the touchline, where his head was swathed in bandages before returning.
Lee didn’t look close to 100 per cent as the half continued and it seemed as if Sprague would make an earlier appearance than expected. Lee was cautioned for a challenge a couple of minutes after he had sunk to his haunches, clearly still struggling.
As for action on the pitch, there was little to report although Met Police, led by the giant debutant Diau, caused a few problems for the Hendon defence, but James Hammond, Lee, Rian Bray and Luke Tingey ensured that while a few corners were conceded, only a few crosses made their way into the danger area, where Tom Lovelock caught or punched clear everything that came close to him.
In the 28th minute, Tom Bird ran towards the Hendon goal and fired a powerful 30-yard shot. Lovelock was momentarily alarmed, but the ball didn’t dip anything like enough and finished clearing the crossbar by about a foot. It would be Met Police’s closest attempt on goal in the match.
Hendon did have the occasional good moment, notably in the 36th minute when Ashley Nathaniel-George and Zak Joseph combined before the latter, from a very acute angle, shot across Thomas Williams. The ball beat the goalkeeper but went just beyond the far post.
The Greens had another injury worry when Hammond went down but he too was able to continue, albeit only to half-time.
Just before break, Dave Diedhiou, just outside the Police penalty area, miscontrolled the ball and in his bid to regain possession, his poor challenge ond Will Salmon was deemed worthy of a red card.
The second half saw Sprague and Jake Eggleton come on for Hammond and Nathaniel George and there was also a defensive reshuffle. Whether it was the Hendon changes or an over-confidence that the 10 men would wilt, the Police did little to make life difficult for their hosts.
Ten mimutes after the restart, Diau rose for a ball with Michael Corcoran and the pair landed in a heap together. The visiting striker screamed in pain as Corcoran rolled away from him and the referee was quick to stop play.
The Blues’ physio saw that Diau’s elbow was dislocated and he quickly relocated the joint before doing anything else. Diau was taken from the field on a stretcher, but he had to wait almost two hours for the ambulance to arrive.
Midway through the second half, Corcoran strode forward from midfield and watched as the defenders in front of him dropped back rather than attempted to challenge him. Given the shooting opportunity, Corcoran took aim and fired a beautiful 25-yard curler which beat Thomas Williams but crashed against the outside of the right post and bounced away to safety.
In the 69th minute, the Police defence was again found wanting and Sprague and Walker combined down the left before a cross found Niko Muir, but he did not time his leap right and his free header looped over the crossbar.
The last 20 minutes were a personal nightmare for Blues defender Jeremy Arthur, who made three terrible errors which cost Met Police two goals.
In the 71st minute, he brought the ball out of defence, chased and harried by Muir. Just inside the Hendon half, in the centre-circle, Muir dispossessed Arthur and immediately set off towards the Blues goal.
Walker and Sprague joined Muir, setting up a 3-on-2. Muir passed to Walker on his left, at which point Sprague ran diagonally towards the right corner flag.
Whether or not he was onside – the assistant referee said that the Blues left-back had played him on – Sprague was perfectly placed to receive Walker’s perfectly-weighted pass. Taking a touch to steady himself and juke Thomas Williams into going ground, Sprague held his nerve and slipped the ball into the net.
For all of Hendon’s domination, a single goal lead was not entirely comfortable, even though Metropolitan Police had demonstrated little idea of how to get back into the match, because a slip or misplaced pass might be all they needed. The second goal the Greens craved came with eight minutes to go.
Once again, Sprague and Walker were involved and Arthur had another moment to forget. The ball forward from Sprague was direct, but Walker was a willing runner and Arthur a distinctly uncomfortable opponent.
Arthur made a hash of dealing the ball and Walker took the ball away from him. There was never a scintilla of doubt that Walker would finish and he did so with aplomb.
Sam Murphy replaced Walker just before the game moved into stoppage time, of which there were more than six minutes. As for danger that Hendon might let their advantage slip, there was none and the game finished with Lovelock not having had to do anything more than catch or punch crosses and make one quick dart off his line to beat Ryan Myler to a through ball.
Hendon make the short trip to Wingate on Easter Monday.
Hendon: Lovelock, Hammond (Eggleton 46), Lee, Tingey, Bray, Diedhiou, Nathaniel-George (Sprague 46), Corcoran Joseph, Muir, Walker (S Murphy 90). Unused subs: Ball, Uchechi.