Hendon 0 Wingate & Finchley 1: Blues triumph against Greens
PUBLISHED: 09:29 03 January 2018
Bostik Premier: Hendon 0 Wingate & Finchley 1
Hendon started the New Year on a low note with not only a 1–0 home defeat against Wingate & Finchley but also they lost goalkeeper Tom Lovelock — one of the key reasons for the Greens’ success in 2017 — to gashed leg which required 18 stitches.
Michael Corcoran dropped out of the 16 with injury, joining Dan Uchechi and Zak Joseph, while Harly Wise completed his suspension. Two other starters in the win at Harlow moved the subs’ bench, Luke Tingey and Keagan Cole, so Sam Murphy, Casey Maclaren and Matt Ball were in the starting line-up
Playing with the confidence that came from four straight wins and a goal difference of 14–2, Hendon went at Wingate & Finchley from the start, but they were repelled by the giant frames of Claudio Vilcu and acting skipper Sean Cronin in the heart of their defence.
In the 10th minute, Niko Muir fired wide from a good position and, four minutes, later Ball could not make good contact with the ball after a mazy run from Josh Walker. It set the tone for Hendon, whose approach play was good but either the ball into the box or the decisive shot lacked clinical accuracy.
After 18 minutes, a long cross from Reece Beckles-Richards almost embarrassed Lovelock, but it dipped just over the crossbar. It was a rare attack for the Blues and they were grateful to Shane Gore for an excellent save to deny Muir after 29 minutes.
Just before the half-hour mark Ashley Nathaniel-George fired inches wide of the target with Gore beaten, but the goalkeeper then made an excellent save to keep out a shot from Rian Bray at the near post. From the corner, however, double disaster struck the Greens.
The ball into the danger area was easily cleared and the ball was punted downfield to where Beckles-Richards was in space. He attacked at pace and rolled the ball across the edge of the 18-yard box to where Quentin Monville was arriving unchallenged.
Monville’s first touch was not good and it gave Lovelock the chance to come off his line. Lovelock was not quite quick enough because MONVILLE just reached the ball first and directed it into the net.
The goalkeeper stayed down, signalling for assistance in some distress. As soon as sports therapist Mark Findley reached the stricken Lovelock it was clear the injury was serious and Dan Purdue started to warm up. A stretcher was called and Lovelock left the field with concerned faces everywhere.
Unsurprisingly the rest of the first half was played in a rather muted atmosphere and it was the men in burgundy who trooped into the dressing rooms the happier.
For the second half Hendon played as they were in a quandary of going all out for victory or protecting the young goalkeeper who had twice been a cup hero for the Greens. It gave Wingate & Finchley more freedom, but they did not really exploit the extra space, Bray and Arthur Lee coping with everything that came at them.
Gradually, Jake Eggleton and Murphy started making inroads down the flanks, but their opposite numbers Ola Williams and Nathan Mavila were equally happy to make forays of their own. The midfield battle was rather turgid with neither Dave Diedhiou or Maclaren able to assert authority and Luke Alfand and the industrious Charlie Barker were at least their equals.
Gradually, Hendon began to create more openings, though they did have a fright when Barker was just wide with an effort midway through the period. At around the same time, the Greens made their second change, Cole replacing Ball and the 18-year-old gave added urgency to the cause.
Gore was called into action again in the 69th minute and he was again equal to the challenge, keeping out a well-placed effort from Nathaniel-George. In the 78th minute, Purdue had to make his only real save, tipping over a header from Monville as the ball dipped towards the crossbar.
Tingey took over from Murphy for the final few minutes – Wingate & Finchley, unusually, made no changes all game – and he almost earned Super Sub status with an drive from an acute angle that flashed inches past the far post.
The five minutes of added time brought frantic action – all at the Wingate & Finchley end – only because another breakaway foundered on a poor touch from Marc Charles-Smith. First there was a shot from Cole which Gore saved well.
From that corner there was an almighty scramble which saw a defender hack the ball away from close to the line. The rebound fell to Muir, but Gore again rescued his team.
The last chance came to Nathaniel-George, but he could not convert it, from an admittedly acute angle. On other days, the Greens would have snatched a point and no one could have said it was undeserved; on this one, however, there was no last-second glory and Wingate & Finchley went home with all three points.
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