Hendon beat Police to keep hopes alive
PUBLISHED: 18:09 16 April 2017 | UPDATED: 06:55 17 April 2017
Hendon 2 Met Police 0
Hendon kept their survival hopes alive with a pair of late goals to finally see off Metropolitan Police at Silver Jubilee Park on Easter Saturday.
The result lifted the Greens out of the Ryman Premier Division’s bottom four for the first time in many months.
Backing up the victory over Folkestone, Hendon were able to start the same 11 players and the substitutes bench was also unchanged, a happy luxury in the battle to avoid relegation.
Another positive was the fact that for the second consecutive game, the Greens went through the whole match without receiving a single yellow card.
Met Police have done almost enough to ensure their own safety – but not quite and it meant that the match mattered significantly to both teams, especially as the Blues face an Easter Monday visit from fellow strugglers Leatherhead before travelling to title-chasing Bognor Regis Town on the final day of the season.
Defences were on top, especially in the first half, and there were few clear-cut openings at either end.
Sam Murphy played a key role at both ends because he was charged with keeping Roman Michael-Percil quiet and, in the 10th minute, he also came close to opening the scoring with a 20-yard drive which Brandon Daly saved.
Michael-Percil – a Hendon player two seasons ago – showed some of great skills after 21 minutes when there was a real scramble on the edge of the Greens’ penalty area.
The flying winger appeared from the flank, danced past three tacklers – none of whom dared make a challenge for fear of conceding a penalty – and made space for a shot, but Tom Lovelock made a comfortable low save.
Speed is a dangerous weapon and Hendon had Michael-Percil’s at least equal in Khale Da Costa. Will Salmon and Sam Williams had a much harder afternoon against him than Murphy and James Hammond had with the Blues wide man.
As well as Arthur Lee and Josh McLeod-Urquhart performed in keeping Charlie Collins and Lloyd Macklin quiet, Hendon were the more dangers and Ollie Robinson and Steve Sutherland had many more problems with Kezie Ibe and Reis Stanislaus.
There was little to choose between the two midfields, and neither manager was particularly happy with the way they performed in the first 45 minutes.
Hendon did enjoy the better possession with Matt Ball and Keagan Cole prompting, while James Harper broke up play well.
Just before the break, Murphy was sent into space by Da Costa. Murphy cut inside Salmon and rolled the ball back into the path of Da Costa, who was denied by an excellent save from Daly.
Such was the Blues dissatisfaction with their first-half display that they replaced Rob Bartley with former Wingate & Finchley man Ola Sogbanmu.
The substitute added a bit of strength to the midfield but the Blues contributed little in the way of second-half attacking.
Hendon, meanwhile, really took the game to the Police. Daly produced another fine save to deny Da Costa, who thought he was sure to score with a 20-yard strike.
Ibe and Reis Stanislaus almost fashioned an opening five minutes later, but the ball just eluded the former as got clear of Sutherland.
For most of the half, Hendon had the ball in the Police half, but they could not make the breakthrough.
The Blues looked to Michael-Percil for their attacking options and he fired into the near-post side-netting with Collins well-placed, then, after a rapid counter-attack delivered a low ball behind Collins and too far in front of Macklin.
Midway through the half, Stanislaus had a chance but he drove the ball inches over the crossbar. Ball then just missed the target with a free-kick from a dangerous position, but he was closer than both Ryan James and Collins were with set pieces at the other end.
With 16 minutes to go, Cole was replaced by Barrington and the Guyanese striker made an immediate impact as Hendon suddenly had great pace down both flanks.
That said, Hendon’s over-commitment to attack nearly undid them as Macklin forced a full-stretch save from Lovelock as the ball bent towards the top right corner.
And Police boss Jim Cooper, realising that one goal would probably settle the match brought on the recently re-signed Ty Smith, who won many games for the Blues in his previous Imber Court stay. This time, however, he was barely a factor, but the goal was not long in coming.
It was Hendon sub Barrington who was the catalyst. In the 83rd minute, he linked with Da Costa and got around Williams as he approached the six-yard box, near to the goal-line.
Ibe, sensing a great chance moved away from Sutherland and was in clear space for a pass. Barrington delivered an almost perfect pass and the only reason Ibe didn’t open the scoring was that Sutherland got to the ball first and knocked it past a startled Daly for an own goal.
No real blame can be attached to Sutherland as he tried to deal with a desperate situation for his team. The reaction of his team-mates was more telling: three or four sank to their haunches or knees, painfully and exhaustedly aware that one point, at least, had slipped away.
“I knew I was going to score,” said Ibe, “It was only a simple side-foot from a few yards out. But I don’t care who scored the goal. I don’t know why some people asked me if I had scored the goal.”
Before play resumed Dave Diedhiou took over from Ibe to strengthen the defensive side for Hendon. Orlando Smith was the last card played by the Blues, Ahmed Abdulla being the man to go off.
Within two minutes, the game was made safe. Ball fired a powerful drive which Daly couldn’t hold and Barrington was quickest to react, ramming the rebound into the net. He may not have got his wish for the first goal to be credited to him, but there was no doubt about this one.
Luke Tingey was Hendon’s last replacement, coming on for Harper. This was little more than a time-wasting exercise but Hendon really should have added a third goal deep in stoppage time.
Barrington and Stanislaus led a breakaway and there was only Sutherland between them and Daly. The pass from Barrington took Stanislaus clear but Daly made a fine low block with his legs.
A third Hendon goal might still have made a difference, because it would have lifted the Greens’ goal difference one better than Burgess Hill. As it is Hendon have scored nine more goals than the Hillians, with both teams sharing a –22 goal difference and 50 points.
Safety is not yet by any means assured for Hendon and even three points from the Easter game at Harrow Borough may not be enough. However, Borough, in 15th place are only three points better off than the Greens and the goal difference is half a dozen in Harrow’s favour.
Hendon: Lovelock, Hammond, Lee, Murphy, McLeod-Urquhart, Harper (Tingey 88), Cole (Barrington 74), Ball, Ibe (Diedhiou 87), Stanislaus, K Da Costa. Unused subs: Charles, Rumens.