Hendon 1 Harlow Town 0: Greens clip Hawks wings
PUBLISHED: 07:14 21 August 2017 | UPDATED: 07:14 21 August 2017
Hendon made it back-to-back wins in the Bostik Premier with a hard fought success over Harlow Town.
The Greens showed the grit necessary to break down a solid defence whilst slowing down and eventually stopping an eager Hawks attack.
Dave Diedhiou came into the starting line-up at the expense of Luke Tingey, who broke his wrist against Enfield Town, while on the bench was Oliver Sprague, back at Hendon on loan from Billericay Town, where former West Ham United and England left-back Paul Konchesky was keeping him out of the team.
Harlow made an excellent start and very nearly turned it into something tangible as in the fourth minute, Nigel Neita got the better of Jake Eggleton and delivered a low cross which Cyrus Gordon drilled across Tom Lovelock and against the foot of the far post, from where the ball bounced away to safety.
Three minutes later, another cross from Neita this time picked out Junior Dadson, whose effort was saved by Lovelock.
Later in the half, Dadson was again denied by Lovelock, this time from almost point-blank range, though the ball was directed straight at him.
Eggleton set up Diedhiou for Hendon’s best early chance, a 16th-minute shot which flew past former Hendon keeper Ben McNamara – making his Hawks debut on loan from Dagenham & Redbridge – but went inches wide of the far post.
Neita was a constant thorn in the Hendon side, but all his good work came to nothing as the final ball into the penalty area because the Harlow frontmen couldn’t get the space they needed to get clear sights at goal.
When balls from out wide didn’t work, the Hawks resorted to shooting from long range, but their radar was severely off and Lovelock was able to calmly watch the attempts fly high and wide of his goal.
In the 33rd minute, James Baker had an effort blocked by Rian Bray, who did well to make the intervention. The ball was soon at the other end and a dipping drive from Matt Ball was acrobatically tipped over the bar by McNamara, though the referee and his assistant agreed it was a goal-kick.
Two minutes after the resumption Sam Murphy saw his drive fly just wide of the goal with McNamara well beaten.
But the Greens then suffered a blow when Daniel Uchechi was crudely fouled by James Shepherd, earning the defender a caution.
Although the winger tried to continue, he was unable to do so and Reis Stanislaus replaced him. A few minutes later, the referee’s book also contained the name of Charlie Dickens, after a succession of fouls on Niko Muir.
From the free-kick, Ball’s drive was well saved by McNamara, who held onto the ball as Muir and Zak Joseph hoped for it to be spilled.
In the 64th minute, Hendon made wahat proved to be the crucial breakthrough as Murphy and Stanislaus combined down the left flank and the ball was played into Muir, who finally got a few yards of space from Dickens.
Muir decided not to shoot, but instead angled a pass to the right edge of the Hawks penalty area. Keagan Cole controlled the ball and drilled it into the net off the far post.
The goal hit the Harlow’s confidence hard and, for the next 20 minutes, left them rather toothless up front.
Bray and skipper Arthur Lee were outstanding in keeping Fabion Simms and Alex Read quiet, though the latter spent most of the game claiming free-kicks for phantom fouls.
Three changes by the Hawks were attempts to liven up their rather dormant attack as Nathan Livings took over from Dadson, who had been a danger attacking from deep; the classy Xavier Vidal replaced Gordon and, surprisingly, Neita was withdrawn for the final 15 minutes for Reece Gordon.
Visiting fans were very upset at this last change, but the truth was that Hendon, who moved Cole out wide to support Eggleton, had done an excellent job in stifling the dangerous winger in the second half.
In the final 10 minutes, the Hawks finally roused themselves into attacking in numbers and three minutes from the end of normal time, Vidal drilled a shot which Lee blocked before Lovelock was forced into action.
The Greens were forced to defend more deeply than they had for almost an hour, but the back four remained dominant and Harlow had to be aware of Hendon’s dangerous attacking options.
Hendon were content to hold onto what they had and their last two changes came in the final minutes as Kezie Ibe took over from Cole, while in stoppage time, Sprague made his fourth debut in stoppage time, with Joseph being the man to leave the fray.
Hendon: Lovelock, Eggleton, Murphy, Diedhiou, Bray, Lee, Cole (Ibe, 83), Ball, Joseph (Sprague, 90+2), Muir, Uchechi (Stanislaus, 58). Unused subs: Currie, Nathaniel-George.