Southern League: Walton Casuals 5 Hendon 1
PUBLISHED: 07:50 17 December 2018 | UPDATED: 07:50 17 December 2018
Hendon endured a day of abject misery as they were comprehensively dismantled by Walton Casuals at the Elmbridge Sports Hub, with three players lost to injury in the first 50 minutes.
With Luke Tingey joining Guri Demuria and Romario Jonas on the absent centre-back list, Hendon brought in new signing Taofiq Omolowewe – a Nike Academy graduate who spent time at Burnley – for his debut alongside Adam Pepera.
Lee Chappell came in for Shaun Lucien in a central midfield role alongside Bayley Brown and Matty Harriott, leaving Tanasheh Abrahams at left-back for his second game.
In appalling weather conditions with a strong wind and incessant rain, Hendon made an awful start.
In the second minute, Sonny Black fired wide from a good position, with no defender close to him.
Five minutes later Casuals did take the lead, with the visiting defence again carelessly lax. One shot was blocked, but the rebound fell to James Ewington who, under little pressure, finished comfortably with a low shot.
In the ninth minute, Hendon had a bit of an escape when a cross from the Walton right took a big deflection and, with Danny Boness back-pedalling desperately, the ball dipped inches beyond the crossbar. Boness’s body language suggested the ball had gone into the net, but it was actually on top of it and the Walton corner was cleared.
More bad defending should have resulted in a second Walton goal in the 15th minute, when a deep cross from Dan Bennett picked out the unmarked Ewington. The striker was only half a dozen yards from goal, but he smacked his diving header against the crossbar.
The inevitable second goal arrived in the 26th minute, when Bennett’s astute through ball found Ewington, the only one of three strikers in an onside position. There was little appeal from Hendon’s defence as Ewington ran on and, without fuss, slipped the ball past the advancing Boness.
Less than five minutes later, Hendon had to replace the limping Howard Hall, with Taishan Griffith coming on in a like-for-like change.
In the 32nd minute the Greens had their first noteworthy attack when Cole Brown drove a low cross which was just too far in front of the sliding Ricardo German for him get to a shot on goal.
Walton went 3-0 up in the 34th minute, as Bennett played another ball into the danger area and Ewington had no defender close enough to make his finish even remotely difficult, completing a 27-minute hat-trick.
Two minutes later, Hendon were forced to make yet another first-half injury substitution with German, the victim of a robust challenge a few minutes earlier, limping off and Connor Calcutt coming on.
As the first half reached its final minute, Hendon were given a lifeline as Casuals centre-back Max Hustwick seemed to have plenty of time to clear his lines, but he dithered and Calcutt, Cole Brown and Harriott were surrounding him.
Hustwick was dispossessed by Harriott, who ran on and confidently rolled the ball past the exposed Denzel Gerrar.
Two minutes into stoppage time, excellent approach play from Shaquille Hippolyte-Patrick set up a chance for Calcutt but the substitute probably had more time than he realised and failed to hit the target. Had he scored, the game may well have taken an entirely different turn in the second half.
It may have been that Walton felt the game was comfortably in the bag, but, more likely, the half-time team-talk from Hendon manager Jimmy Gray had the desired effect.
For 35 minutes, Hendon looked slightly the better team. The one negative was losing Hippolyte-Patrick to an injury five minutes after the restart, with Lucien replacing him.
Both Adam Pepera and Olomowewe had chances from corners but failed to hit the target and efforts from both Cole Brown and Lucien required Gerrar to make relatively comfortable saves.
It should be said that on the sodden 3G pitch and in awful weather, no save was absolutely routine.
The Greens had another chance in a goalmouth scramble but the Walton defence just about denied Hendon’s attackers before Gerrar dived on the ball.
Ewington had two great chances to score his fourth goal from quick counter-attacks but his first shot narrowly cleared the crossbar and his second was bravely blocked by Boness.
However, the third time was the charm as in the 84th minute, a cross came from Jack Battie on the left wing found Ewington, who was all alone, and he completed his four-goal haul from close range.
With two minutes of normal time remaining, Ewington made way for 16-year-old Reece Robins – his second first-team appearance.
Just before the 90th minute, Hendon came close to a consolation when a header crashed off the Casuals crossbar, leading to a counter-attack. There was a three-on-one advantage for Walton, but they made a hash of the chance without getting a shot on goal.
In stoppage time, it got even worse for the Greens when a needless challenge wide in the penalty area on a player going away from goal, resulted in a penalty.
Casuals gave the ball to Robins, and the teenager made it 5–1 with a confident spot-kick.
Hendon: Boness, Hall (Griffith 30), Abrahams, Chappell, Olomowewe, Pepera, B Brown, Harriott, German (Calcutt 35), Hippolyte-Patrick (Lucien 49), C Brown. Unused subs: Alexander-Greenaway. Crichlow.