Southern League: Hendon 2 Yate Town 1
PUBLISHED: 18:38 02 February 2020
Hendon extended their winning streak to four matches, and five straight in Southern League Premier Division South, with a narrow victory over Yate Town on Saturday.
At the start of 2020, this looked like a battle between two teams fighting against the drop; now, at the start of February it was contest between in-form teams.
The match was open, superbly refereed, with only a double handful of free-kicks, but was notable for a real lack of clear-cut chances at either end.
But when all was said and done, the Greens had Joe White and won; Yate didn't have someone like Joe White and lost.
On the back of the win against Wimborne, Hendon named the same starters and the only change to the squad was the addition of fit-again Luke Tingey, to the bench - where he and boss Lee Allinson would be unused.
Yate named only three substitutes, but they did start four recent additions from the Bristol City academy in Joe Low, James Taylor, Sam Bell and Tommy Conway.
The visitors started the brighter, but their attack lacked a cutting edge as Aysa Corrick got nothing out Simeon Olarerin, while Lucas Perry forced Taylor to play inside.
Bell was a lone striker and he lost out in his skirmishes with Tommy Brewer; Eddie Oshodi, meanwhile, was almost a free man at the back, allowing him the chance to bring the ball forward out of defence on a few occasions.
That said, the first two efforts on goal both came from the men in yellow. In the 12th minute, a cross from a set-piece was glanced towards the far post by Low, but the Greens' January player of the month Rihards Matrevics, whose loan spell from Barnet has been extended for a third month, made a sprawling save by the foot of the upright.
After 22 minutes, Yate dallied on a quick counter-attack for just a moment and this allowed the Hendon defence to get closer to Bell. The young striker did manage to turn but his shot was well blocked by Matrevics.
In the 31st minute, Hendon took the lead and referee Craig Pullen deserves enormous credit for it. It started with a good defensive header by Brewer on the edge of his own penalty area. The ball fell to Solomon Sambou, who was fouled as he moved forward, but Pullen played advantage. Sambou passed to Liam Brooks, who quickly fed the ball on to Percy Kiangebeni. The next pass went to Kieron Forbes, who took a touch, looked up, invited Brooks to run into a gap and rolled the ball into that space.
As Brooks reached the ball he was taken out by Low. It was close to being denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity, but the referee allowed play to continue and White profited, as he ran onto the loose ball and rolled it past the advancing Adam Forster just inside the far post.
There was no immediate response from Yate in terms pressure on the Hendon goal as both teams continued to battle in midfield, probing for openings which never materialised.
Just before half-time, the Greens came close to a second goal when a through ball gave Olarerin the chance to run at goal. Forster, however, was quickly off his line and spread himself well to smother the ball at the feet of the young full-back.
Early in the second half, a short clearance fell to Forbes, who immediately shot at goal. His effort had plenty of power, but was just a little too high and over the crossbar with Forster well beaten.
The next chance fell to Yate and they very nearly got an equaliser as an attack built on their right side and a diagonal shot came in, directed towards the far post. Bell launched himself at the ball and narrowly missed making contact as it went inches beyond the upright.
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Any contact surely would have brought Bell a goal but, having been caught offside a couple of times already, it might have made him delay his run forward by a half-second.
The goal the West Countrymen deserved arrived in the 59th minute. Taylor ran into a good position and passed to Joe Guest, who helped the ball onto Conway. Instead of shooting, Conway sent the ball back to the right side, where Bell was waiting. His shot flew across Matrevics, struck the goal-frame and was knocked into the net from close range by Taylor.
Before play could resume, Sam Corcoran took over from Kiengebeni, giving Brook a slight more forward and central role. This changed brought Shaun Lucien more into the game as a wide attacking outlet.
He had been well marked by Elliott Keightley and the Greens had enjoyed almost nothing from their normally productive source. That changed in the 71st minute.
Olarerin made a foray down the right side, stopped and passed to Sambou, who again made space for himself before finding Forbes. The former England C international weighed up his options and sent the ball to Corcoran, who played it back to Perry.
Lucien came short and received the next pass. This time, however, instead of Keightley in front of Lucien it was Taylor, and the young midfielder didn't have the defensive nous of his senior team-mate.
Taylor allowed Lucien to cut inside and made no attempt to stop a cross coming in. White, with the striker's native instinct, timed his run past the static Low and suddenly was all alone close to the penalty spot.
Lucien's unpressured cross was inch-perfect and White guided his header beyond Forster just inside the far post. As Hendon celebrated, Low was berated by his captain Sam Boulton for allowing White's unchecked run.
Hendon's first goal involved six players and six passes; the second seven players and six passes. Not only were both efforts real team goals, only Matrevics and Oshodi were not involved in either or both goals.
Brooks made way for Luca Allinson with ten minutes to go as Hendon looked to hold on to the three points. Yate made their three changes without really changing their style or system and the only really difficult moment came from a right wing cross into a crowded penalty area.
Matrevics came out to get the ball and elected to punch the ball clear rather than risk spilling it under pressure. He got good enough fists on the ball to ensure it bounced in an unpatrolled part of the pitch and Hendon cleared the danger.
With four minutes to go, the Greens really should have sewn up the points. Lucien worked himself clear of the Yate defence and had only Forster to beat. He took the ball around the goalkeeper and stumbled slightly, which meant he didn't quite get his angle right, and the side-foot rolled into the outside of the side-netting.
As the game moved into stoppage time, Lucien was taken off and Howe came on. The referee played almost five minutes of additional time - perfectly reasonable given five substitutions, two goals and a couple of longish waits for a balls cleared out of the ground to be replaced on the pitch - but Yate had rather run out of ideas.
Delighted manager Lee Allinson said: "I am over the moon to win five in a row. It wasn't our best performance of the five. I didn't feel we were right today. We were flat all afternoon until they scored.
"It is great not to play well and come away with a win. Yate are one of the better sides we have played down here. They are young and fit and they gave us a lot of trouble.
"The weather played a real factor in the game. It was very windy and difficult to keep the ball under control."
Hendon: Matervics, Olarerin, Perry, Forbes, Brewer, Oshodi, Lucien (Howe 90), Sambou, White, Kiangebeni (Corcoran 60), Brooks (Luca Allinson 82). Unused subs: Tingey, Lee Allinson.
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