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Bostik Premier: Hendon super sub Josh Walker sinks Dulwich Hamlet

PUBLISHED: 11:30 13 September 2017

Hendon hero Josh Walker in pre-season action (pic: DBeech Photography).

Hendon hero Josh Walker in pre-season action (pic: DBeech Photography).

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Greens boss Gary McCann delighted with team following victory at Champion Hill

Hendon escaped from Champion Hill with three Bostik Premier points after a magnificent rearguard action kept them the game long enough for substitute Josh Walker, on his debut, to strike a dagger into the Dulwich Hamlet hearts with a winning goal five minutes into the four additional advised by the referee.

The Greens made four changes for the match, full-backs Jake Eggleton and Sam Murphy, plus Matt Ball and Ashley Nathaniel-George all missing out – the latter two were named as substitutes – with Oliver Sprague, Keagan Cole, Casey Maclaren and Kezie Ibe coming into the starting line-up.

Also on the bench was another player who would make his debut, James Rogers-Oben, and Cameron Currie, who would not be used.

Just before kick-off, the heavens opened and the match was played in almost its entirety in pouring rain. The soaking pitch probably added to excitement, but it held up really well in the inclement conditions.

Very unusually for a Hendon team coached by Gary McCann, the Greens were content to let Dulwich have the ball and set the pace.

In the 13th minute, Nyren Clunis forced a save from Tom Lovelock; Clunis’s battle against Sprague was compelling throughout and the Hendon man deserves huge credit for limiting the chances that came down the Hamlet right flank.

Three minutes later, Michael Corcoran went down with an injury. He was able to continue, but only for a couple of minutes before Ball replaced him.

Lovelock continued to be busy and he then pulled off three superb saves in a little over a minute, denying Dumebi Dumaka, twice, and Kenny Beaney. Ibrahim Kargbo then drilled a 25-yard shot that narrowly missed the target with Lovelock a spectator.

Hendon did have a couple of openings, Zak Joseph firing narrowly wide with a snapshot and Ball driving a free-kick just the wrong side of Preston Edwards’ far post.

Just before the break, Dumaka had the ball in the Hendon net when he was put through by Beaney. However, he had failed to time his run and the assistant referee’s flag was up as he received the ball and a few strides before he shot past Lovelock.

Reaching half-time all square was an achievement, and the Greens made another change before the second half kicked-off, Rogers-Oben coming on for Ibe as Hendon became even more defensive, Dave Diedhiou – booked for a foul just before the break – moving into midfield and Rogers-Oben slotting in at full-back.

Rogers-Oben certainly improved Hendon defensively as he kept Muhammadu Faal more quiet. But the two best defenders were the centre-backs, Rian Bray and Arthur Lee, who dealt with most of the danger thrown at them.

And, when they were beaten, Lovelock was magnificent. He made excellent saves to keep out efforts from Michael Chambers, Dumaka and Nathan Ferguson, the last of whom was cautioned for simulation as he went down in a challenge on the edge of the penalty area.

Having failed to make the breakthrough, Dulwich made their changes in fairly quick succession, sending on Ashley Carew, Nana Boakye-Yiadom and Sanchez Ming for Ferguson, Dumaka and Frazer Shaw respectively. Five minutes after the last of the changes, Rickie Hayles collided with a team-mate and spent the final few minutes limping.

Hendon finally had a spell of concerted pressure on the Dulwich goal, but there were 74 minutes on the clock. It gave the impression that the Blues’ defence was not impregnable as the clearances could not find team-mates – much as was the case when the Greens were defending, but the pressure on them was far more intense.

Niko Muir barely had a look-in, especially in the second half, when he was pretty much a lone striker for most of the 45 minutes. Hendon also made their final change with 11 minutes remaining, Walker taking over from Joseph.

Dulwich were beginning to show signs of frustration as two shots in quick succession flew ingloriously high and wide of the target. Mark Weatherstone, then had a great chance to win it with a free header from ten yards. He, however, could not keep the ball down and it bounced on the top of the net.

The referee signalled that there would be four minutes of additional time – a generous decision for Hendon, who had been guilty of time-wasting for large parts of the second half. Those four minutes were soon extended as Diedhiou mistimed a challenge and was shown a second yellow card.

Down to 10 men, Hendon defended the free-kick well and also sensed that Hamlet had rather run out of ideas and desperation was building. The Greens simply kept to their plan and looked to Muir and Walker for sporadic runs forward.

In the time added on for the time it took for Diedhiou to leave the pitch from the far touchline, Hendon struck. Ball, who had been a tireless worker with Keagan Cole and Maclaren in the middle of the park, picked out Walker with a brilliant pass on the left side.

Weatherstone could not slow down the substitute, who cut inside. The limping Hayles could not get across in time and WALKER curled a beautiful shot beyond the helpless dive of Edwards.

Amazingly, Walker’s effort was the fourth consecutive Hendon away match to have a goal scored at least four minutes into additional time. The three Bostik League games were all match-winners: Brightlingsea taking the points on Bank Holiday Saturday, Spencer McCall netting Wingate & Finchley’s fourth in the FA Cup and Cole’s winner at Metropolitan Police last Saturday.

There was barely time for the restart before the referee blew the final whistle. Hendon celebrations, despite the pouring the rain, continued for many minutes.

The result lifts the Greens to the heady heights of second in the division, three points behind leaders Billericay, though Leiston and Wingate & Finchley trail Hendon only on goal difference.

Hendon manager Gary McCann was, obviously, delighted with the result as he said, “Defensively from front to back, it was a display of the highest order. Our goalkeeper was magnificent and I think he is among the best in the League.

“I would have been delighted with a point, so I am ecstatic to get all three points. Our goal came from the best passage of play from the game: Ball’s sublime pass, Josh’s shimmy and jink and then his shot.

“We needed to make the change at half-time because I wasn’t happy with the way that we were keeping the ball. I didn’t think that James could play the full 90, but I was delighted with the 45 minutes he gave me.

“I told the players at half-time, we had to stick to our game plan because the longer the game went on there was always the chance that we could nick it. We had two players on the bench who could turn a game in Walker and Ash Nathaniel-George, and Josh showed that.”

Team: Lovelock, Diedhiou, Sprague, Corcoran (Ball, 19), Bray, Lee, Cole, Maclaren, Ibe (Rogers-Oben, HT), Muir, Joseph (Walker, 79). Unused subs: Currie, Nathaniel-George.

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