Middlesex Cup: Hendon 1 Wingate & Finchley 3
PUBLISHED: 19:12 27 November 2019
Hendon 1 Wingate & Finchley 3
Hendon's interest in Middlesex Senior Cup ended at the first hurdle as Wingate & Finchley defeated them 3-1 at Silver Jubilee Park.
There were four changes to the team which had pushed Tiverton Town so hard at the weekend. Kam English was back from suspension, dual-registration Dave Diedhiou came into the midfield, while the recalled Howard Hall came in at left-back and Reece Mitchell up front.
Those dropping out were Sergio Manesio, Ryan Hope, Tahjae Anderson - all on the bench - and Corey Panter who had returned to Luton. Also on the bench were Obinna Ogbonna and, after being away on international duty for Grenada in the CONCACAF Nations Cup, Kraig Noel-McLeod.
Two teams struggling at the wrong end of their respective tables showed their defensive frailties from the very start. Within a dozen minutes, both could have scored twice and Wingate & Finchley had been especially profligate.
In the 14th minute, Diedhiou struck a powerful goalbound drive, which Fergal Hale-Brown knocked down. As English tried to get to the rebound for what would have been little more than a tap-in, Hale-Brown recovered and dived on the ball.
A minute later, the Blues were fortunate to be awarded a penalty. A Hendon defender was first to reach a set piece into the penalty area, but his attempted clearance bounced off his leg and struck his arm as he swivelled.
The new handball interpretation showed its failings again as it seemed clear that the player had not moved his arm to the ball but was using it for balance, thus although it was in a natural position, the referee felt otherwise and pointed to the spot.
Charlie Ruff stepped up and smashed the penalty past Patrick Ohman. The ball rising rapidly crashed into the crossbar and the striker had the good fortune to see the ball bounce down then up into the roof of the net.
Ruff should have doubled the Blues advantage in the 27th minute. He latched onto a short back-pass and lifted the ball over the stranded Ohman, but instead of striking it with a little power, he went for a cheeky lob and a defender was able to get back and clear the ball from close the line.
It did not matter too much because, five minutes later, Henry Ochieng tried his luck with a 25-yard shot. Unfortunately for Ohman, the goalkeeper seemed to dive over the ball and it went into the net.
Hendon created a few chances, but on more than one occasion, instead of taking responsibility for a shot at goal, the man in possession tried to find a team-mate, less well placed. These opportunities went begging and the Greens were close to capitalising on slack defensive play - but no better than close - twice the most forward player slipping over.
Just before half-time, Ohman produced a superb save to keep out a powerful drive from Ruff. A third goal would probably have meant there was no way back for the Greens, but - much as a week earlier against Hayes & Yeading - the improvement needed in the second half was more than necessary.
There was definitely an improvement, but nothing like as much as in the League Cup. The Greens were quick to make a couple of changes, replacing Luke Tingey with Noel-McLeod after 50 minutes and Keiron Forbes with Manesio five minutes later.
After 58 minutes, Hendon got themselves back into the game. Mitchell worked himself into space, ran forward and struck a powerful low shot. Much as with Ohman dealing with Ochieng's shot, Hale-Brown didn't do a good job and the ball ended up in the back of the net.
The next goal was crucial and the Greens certainly had a couple of chances of getting it. It must be said, however, the same could be said of the Blues and, midway through the half, they got it.
A raid down the left side stretched the Hendon defence and when Wingate & Finchley switched the ball to the right. Alan Fleming cut inside Hall's challenge and placed a firm low shot beyond Ohman's dive into the bottom corner.
Anderson took over from English for the final 20 or so minutes, but his stronger physical presence couldn't make a difference. Manesio fired wide with a speculative shot, but the Greens lacked confidence and alarm bells rang whenever Wingate & Finchley burst forward.
Indeed, there was a greater threat from the Blues and, with better finishing, they could have stretched their advantage on two or three occasions.
Speaking to the club, manager Lee Allinson pulled no punches and said: "It was chalk and cheese from Saturday.
"Tonight I thought we started very, very well for the first 15 minutes but, after they scored their penalty, for the last 75 minutes it was nowhere near the level I expect.
"It was totally unacceptable. Performances like that is why we are where we are and I see it now.
"Actually I am quite pleased with what I saw because it is really easy when you are riding a crest of a wave and everything is hunky-dory, but tonight I saw a few home truths.
"Six or seven of the players out there tonight started the season with us and, frankly, they weren't good enough. We have to make changes and I think we will be better for it.
"Whether it was the sight of all those new players coming in tonight may have had an effect, I don't know, but it wasn't good enough. All over the field they were better than we were."
Team: Ohman, Jonas, Hall, Forbes (Manesio, 55), Hamblin, Tingey (Noel-McLeod, 50), Lucien, Diedhiou, English (Anderson, 73), Galliford, MItchell. Unused subs: Ogbonna, Hope.