Southern League: Met Police 0 Hendon 3
PUBLISHED: 18:57 12 January 2020
Hendon made it back-to-back Southern League Premier Division South victories with their first away win of the season as they blew away Metropolitan Police.
And the result saw the Greens rise two places up the table, to 17th, and seven points clear of the bottom two.
The afternoon certainly didn't start well for the men in orange when Luke Tingey pulled up with an injury during the warm-up - the second consecutive match which saw the Greens lose their right-back before kick-off.
It meant Simeon Olarerin came in for his first League start as three other players came into starting 11, including recent permanent signing Joe White, Eddie Oshodi and Sergio Manensio.
Keiron Forbes, also back from injury, was part of the four-man bench with Andronicos Georgiou, Luca Allinson and Joe Felix - the latter three having started at Needham Market.
Last season, the Blues were on a high and nearly won promotion to the National League South and, as a result, lost a lot of their better players. Things are much harder this year round and their youthful squad were no match for Hendon, especially Tom Smith and Oshidi in defence and Liam Brooks and White up front.
The opening goal, after eight minutes, however, was distinctly route one as Rihards Matrevics' long downfield clearance was allowed to bounce by Lucas Ness and Ollie Robinson. Nipping between them, and before Jeremy Arthur could react, was White, who knocked the ball past Rhys Forster and into the net.
Jack Mazzone, who spent two spells at Hendon in the early 2010s, had a chance to level matters two minutes later.
Controlling the ball in a good position in the middle of the penalty area, albeit with his back to goal, Mazzone was able to turn, but Oshodi was there to block the shot, which dribbled into Matrevics' arms.
The giant Latvian did a great deal better after 17 minutes, when Luke Robertson had a chance at the near post as his shot seemed to be flying just inside the near post, until Matrevics dived low to push the ball away.
With the wind at their backs, Hendon looked dangerous whenever they attacked. Although Zachary Chislett did quite well in his battle with Shaun Lucien, he often needed help and it was not always there.
One of these occasions was in the 27th minute when Lucien delivered a teasing cross. The ball some found its away across the six-yard box and Brooks arrived late to meet it. He could get only the faintest of touches, but it still needed a good block from Forster to keep the ball out.
In attack, Zachary showed some skill with a teasing diagonal ball into the Hendon danger area. Mazzone slid in to deliver the coup de grâce, but the ball had just too much pace on it and he failed to make contact.
Moments later, Hendon suffered another injury blow when Manesio went down with a muscle injury. Forbes immediately replaced him, with the former England C international and Non-League Player of the Season being a more than capable substitute.
From the next Hendon attack, Brooks and Olarerin worked well down the right side and the Blues were happy to concede a corner. Smith met Lucien's deep kick and headed the ball towards the far post. Leaping highest to meet the dropping ball was Oshodi and he scored his second Hendon goal just his sixth appearance.
Hendon nearly gifted the Blues a way back into the game just before the break by needlessly conceding a corner. Mazzone won a header and powered it against the crossbar. The ball bounced down and, somehow, Robertson lashed the rebound wide from about three yards out.
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There was still time for Forster to make a clean save of a swerving, dipping shot from Lucien. Had he dropped the ball, White was alertly waiting for a scrap from which to feed his goal tally.
The level of Police dissatisfaction was obvious before the second half started as skipper Robinson and wide player Stuart Wilkin - the latter making his debut - were withdrawn and Kai Hamilton and Oliver Knight replaced them.
Three minutes later, things went from bad to worse for the Blues.
Lucas Perry made a fierce challenge a few yards outside the penalty area and the ball fell to Lucien. Some of the defenders stopped expecting a free-kick to be awarded, but the men in orange pressed on as Lucien's cross was met by Brooks, who fed White to score from close range.
Hendon had to do a lot of defending as the increasingly strong wind made it hard to get forward. The best indication of this was the distance Matrevics got on his drop-kick clearances: regularly travelling 60-70 yards, his best efforts barely made 50.
Forster, meanwhile, had one effort caught by the goalkeeper above his head on the edge of the six-yard box.
Both teams had completed their changes by the midway point of the second half, Felix taking over from Kiangebeni and Georgiou replacing Lucien. These both came after the Police had gone to a back three with Arthur making way for Ross Murdoch.
The conditions made it difficult for all of the players and keeping control of the ball remained an issue, especially as there was constant pressure from eager tacklers. This was certainly to the Dons' advantage because, in Forbes and skipper Tommy Brewer, they had wise heads, who if not at the heels of the man in possession, were blocking the angles for simple passes.
That said, the Blues were also guilty of over-playing the ball in inappropriate parts of the pitch. In the 75th minute, White, Georgiou and Brooks harried and hounded the Police rearguard and White appeared to tackle Forster, but the referee penalised the striker.
Matrevics was then called into action to keep out a Police effort. It was, given the windy conditions, a very good save. From the resulting corner, the ball was headed wide.
Hendon's chances were at least as good. White went close with a shot, Brooks had an effort, at full stretch, superbly saved by Forster at the foot of the post and Georgiou went on a mazy run through four defenders before being brought down on the edge of the penalty area.
There was still time for the Blues to reduce the arrears as they forced a number of set pieces but three in a row were overhit and bounced either against the pitch surround or onto the terraces. It was a tame end to the game, but Hendon didn't care as the points were theirs.
Manager Lee Allinson, talking on the club's TV website said, "This was a fantastic result. We had a lot to deal with - Luke pulling out in the warm-up - and Simeon (Olarerin) came in put in a really assured performance at right-back. And Joe (White) slotted in right away.
"It was an all-round very good performance, especially in the second half. We defended really well - I didn't realise how strong the wind was because we were protected by the dugout.
"I think it is beginning to come together. We are slowly getting to where we are getting to where we want to be. From day one you aim to set your sets higher but we have to make sure that when we are in the ascendancy we got to keep it going, like today.
"We have to do what we do. Concentrate on us and the rest of it will follow."
Hendon: Matrevics, Olarerin, Perry, Brewer, T Smith, Oshodi, Lucien (Georgiou 68), Manesio (Forbes 35), White, Kiangebeni (Felix 58), Brooks. Unused sub: Luca Allinson.