Pre-season: Hendon 1 Royston Town 1
PUBLISHED: 14:52 30 July 2018 | UPDATED: 14:52 30 July 2018
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Hendon were grateful for a late penalty from Dylan Kearney to secure a draw in this competitive but disappointingly stop-start friendly against Royston Town.
Greens manager James Gray continued to mix and match his players as he looked to find a winning combination.
Royston had two noteworthy players in their starting line-up in Chris Assombalonga, brother of the prolific striker who came out of Watford’s youth system and scored loads of goals on loan at Wealdstone, and Daniel Brathwaite, who was registered with Hendon at the same time as his brother Elliott in 2014.
The early chances went Royston’s way, but Zaki Oualah was not overly troubled, though he did make a good save from a long-range shot after 18 minutes.
Assombalonga gave the Greens some awkward moments, but his fellow forwards didn’t have what it took to give end-product to his good work.
Marvin Morgan created a few openings for Hendon, but the first half-chance did not come until the 27th minute and then Harry Smart made a comfortable save.
Five minutes later, Pierre-Joseph Dubois did well out wide and his ball fell kindly for Morgan, whose effort was bravely blocked by Ben Martin.
Five minutes before half-time, Royston took the lead and unsurprisingly it was Assombalonga who applied the coup de grace, the spadework having come from Rohoelle Gordon.
Three minutes later Oualah made a good save and Howard Hall followed with an excellent block to deny Royston a second goal.
Hendon’s first chance of the second half fell to Harrison Georgiou, a late first-half replacement for Dubois who had the ball in the net, but saw the goal disallowed because of an offside flag.
The Greens made their raft of changes midway through the second half and two of the substitutes, Matty Newman and Kearney, came close to equalising.
Kearney fired over the crossbar on 80 minutes and Newman, two minutes later, was inches wide with a good shot.
Four minutes from time, and much to Royston’s frustration, the Greens were gifted an equaliser when their defence, it must be said, contributed to their own misfortune as they had two or three chances to clear the danger as Hendon built an attack.
The third time the ball came into the area, Kearney worked himself into prime position to control it but failed to do so mainly because a defender had draped himself over the striker, who was then dragged away from the ball.
Kearney, who had take responsibility – and failed – with a spot-kick against St Albans a few games earlier, once more put his hand up and approached the ball with much greater confidence, firing it hard and low to give the Royston goalkeeper no chance.
In the final few minutes, Hendon had the better of possession, but they did not really create any chances worth the name.
A draw was probably the right result and both coaches will probably have learned a lot about their players as the new Southern League season comes ever closer.
Hendon: Oualah, Davis, Griffiths, A. Trialist, Hall, Jonas, Mason, Dombaxe, Howe, Morgan, Dubois. Subs: Hobbs, Kearney, Hunte, Newman, Mbengui, Brown, Osborne. Unused sub: Joseph.