Southern League: Hendon 3 Chesham United 1
PUBLISHED: 11:00 27 August 2019 | UPDATED: 11:00 27 August 2019
Hendon picked up their first win of the new season on a baking hot Bank Holiday Monday afternoon at Silver Jubilee Park.
But if the 3-1 scoreline was a little flattering, the result was probably not as the Generals flattered to deceive when they attacked.
The Greens made their first three changes to their starting line-up, as Lee Chappell, Ryan Hope and Lee Chappell all dropped to the subs bench while Arash Abdollahi, Tahjae Anderson and Luca Valentine replaced them.
The three rested players were all used, with only Anderson seeing out the 90 minutes.
In the fourth minute, Kam English ran from just past halfway and with no defender coming to close him down, he fired a low shot goalwards. Ben Goode, himself briefly registered with the Greens and the brother of former star Charlie, seemed to be a little slow to react and, at full stretch, just tipped the ball around the post.
The next few chances all went Chesham's way as David Pearce forced a save from Chris Grace after 11 minutes with an angled shot. Two minutes later Ryan Blake saw his header tipped over the bar and, shortly after that, Dan Taylor fired a free-kick just wide.
The hardest save Grace had to make came after 26 minutes when Adam Martin cut around the back of the Hendon defence and drilled a low ball across the penalty area.
Pearce ran in unchallenged and smashed a shot towards the roof of the net, but Grace was perfectly placed to make the block and palmed the ball down so he could regather it immediately.
After a much-needed drinks break, Hendon resumed refreshed and took the lead a couple of minutes later. Tahje Anderson, much as English earlier, broke through the midfield and, without a challenger, drove a shot just inside the near post beyond Goode's seemingly slightly late dive.
The Generals continued to probe for openings, but they got very little out of Howard Hall, Charlie Smith, Sam Corcoran and Luke Tingey. When Chesham tried shooting at Grace, the ball went either straight at the goalkeeper or wide of the target.
The pattern of the game continued, but most of the game was in midfield and was broken up by a succession of free-kicks.
Hendon looked for attacking inspiration from Abdollahi, Matty Harriott, Sam Corcoran and Luca Valentine, but they could not find Anderson or English in good positions.
Four minutes after the resumption, another carelessly conceded Hendon free-kick nearly led to an equaliser as the ball was played into the danger area by Taylor and Steve Brown headed over the crossbar with a ominously unchallenged header.
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Chesham then enjoyed a spell of concerted pressure for almost 10 minutes, with a succession of free-kicks and corners. They were all wasted and an air of desperation began to emanate from the raids, and there were clear alarm bells when Hendon had a break and a last-ditch tackle stopped the attack.
In a bid to alter the pattern of the game, Hendon made their three changes either side of the hour mark, as Chappell and Hope came on for Corcoran and Abdollahi in a double swap.
In the 61st minute, Calcutt joined English and Anderson up front, with Valentine making way.
These changes were countered by Chesham, who introduced Dernell Wynter - a thorn in the Greens' side for a number of years at Enfield Town - and Karl Oliyide, who had two spells with Hendon a few seasons ago.
Surprisingly, one of those to go off was Pearce, who had continued to look the most likely source of an equaliser.
Hendon desperately needed a second goal to calm their nerves and two of the substitutes provided it in the 71st minute. Hope attacked down the right side, cut in and, having got the better of Kyle Watson, made an angle for a shot and beat Goode all ends up.
The ball, however, cannoned off the foot of the post and rolled across the six-yard box. Calbutt was the only player to react and he tapped the ball into the net from around a yard out.
The striker thought he might had been offside, admittin: "I thought I was off, but I stared at the assistant and he didn't raise his flag.
"It is one of the easiest goals I will ever score. The ball came at me and I couldn't miss."
Grace made one good save, tipping a header over the crossbar from another dead-ball situation. However, in the 81st minute, a corner from Taylor picked out Wynter and he smashed a header into the net having lost his marker.
Having lost three leads already this season, there were a lot of nerves jangling among the Hendon faithful. This time, however, there was little need to worry because Chesham struggled to create openings, Chappell strengthening the defence playing just in front of the back four.
With a minute of normal time remaining, after the referee had already signalled there would be five additional minutes, Hendon made the game safe.
A careless challenge on the edge of the penalty area gave the Greens a great chance with a free-kick - and Smith took it with a beautiful curling strike past the wall and into the bottom corner.
There was certainly enough time for the Generals to hit back - the additional time was extended to six minutes - but they didn't really seem to have the invention to unlock the Greens' defence again as all too often, players in attacking positions took the wrong option or overhit passes.
Hendon: Grace, Hall, Smith, Corcoran (Chappell 59), Hamblin, Tingey, Abdollahi (Hope 59), Harriott, Anderson, English, Valentine (Calcutt 61). Unused subs: Williams, Huxter.