Hendon striker Leon Smith bids to break all-time record after scoring in eight consecutive games
PUBLISHED: 07:00 09 October 2014
Leon Smith could break Hendon’s all-time club record for goals scored in consecutive matches when the Greens visit Dorchester Town in the third qualifying round of the FA Cup on Saturday.
Having struck the opener in the 2-1 home win over Lewes in the Ryman League Premier Division on Saturday, the 29-year-old came off the bench in Monday’s London Senior Cup match against Barking and hit his eighth goal in as many games to wrap up a 3-1 victory.
That equalled the 89-year-old club record set by Oscar Reinke, who also netted in eight consecutive games for Hendon between September 5 and October 24 in 1925 – although Reinke struck 18 goals in that spell compared to Smith’s nine.
A brace from Belal Aite-Ouakrim had previously put the Dons on course for the next round on Monday, and they will go on to face either London Bari or Redbridge.
Smith’s latest goal was his 12th in all competitions this season, and the former Wingate & Finchley forward is confident he will continue to find the net on a regular basis, having altered his attitude since moving to Earlsmead.
“I’ve changed quite a lot in my approach to the game,” he said. “As you get older your mindset changes and I think if I really focused I could play at a higher level.
“At the start of the season the manager went with me and Kezie Ibe playing alongside each other, but then he changed the formation and I was asked to play a little wider, which meant I had to track back.
“Doing defensive work really wasn’t my game and I had to learn how to do it. It was a change for me, and you know, it wasn’t too bad.”
With Ibe ruled out with a hamstring injury, Smith returned to his favoured central role, and even he has been surprised at the variety of his goals.
“When I score a tap-in someone seems to be there with a camera but the two goals that stand out this season, nobody has them recorded!” he said.
“The half-volley I scored against Leatherhead and the goal I got against Leiston in the FA Cup are the goals that I’ve enjoyed the most. With that second one, there was some good play for Aaron Morgan and Andre da Costa and I hit a shot from outside the box that went in off the post.
“In my whole career I think I might have scored three or four goals from outside the box but this season I’m scoring a variety.”
With manager Gary McCann recently bringing in another attacking player in Aite-Ouakrim, Smith believes the added fight for places is helping him to produce the goals on a consistent basis.
“Competition is definitely what you need,” he said. “When I was at Wingate I didn’t have that competition and I think that maybe put me in a comfort zone there.”
Hendon are currently focusing on Saturday’s FA Cup clash at Dorchester, but Smith will then face his former club Wingate in the Ryman League Cup on Tuesday.
The Blues have enjoyed an excellent start to the season, sitting in the top six in the table, and Smith has been impressed.
“They signed David Knight from Thurrock and he has done really well for them,” said the Greens striker. “When I was there they kept benching me and Dave Norman said I should go out on loan – but I told him there was no point, I might as well leave.
“I got on to Gary McCann at Hendon, who had wanted me to sign me in the past. Gary is a cool guy and this season we’ve been playing some excellent football. We can play out from the back and we create a lot of chances, which is great when you’re a striker.”
Smith believes Hendon can challenge Maidstone United and Margate for automatic promotion this season: “If you look at Concord Rangers, who got two promotions in a row, that is inspirational for us. I believe we can do it,” he said.
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