Hendon boss defends Morgan as matchwinner is sent off in historic victory over Enfield Town

Hendon's Aaron Morgan (left) scored the decisive penalty against Enfield Town but was then sent off.

Hendon's Aaron Morgan (left) scored the decisive penalty against Enfield Town but was then sent off. Pic: Andrew Aleksiejczuk - Credit: Archant

Hendon manager Gary McCann has leapt to the defence of Monday night’s match-winner Aaron Morgan after the forward saw red in his side’s historic 1-0 victory over Enfield Town.

The Greens went into their first home game of the season having never beaten Town since their opponents were formed in 2001, while losing the last six league encounters.

Morgan’s first-half penalty put the hosts on course for victory, but his celebrations were short-lived.

Having been controversially dismissed in last season’s play-off final as the Dons lost 1-0 to Margate, the forward was given his marching orders again for an off-the-ball incident with Enfield defender Claudiu Vilcu just after the break, leaving his side to defend their lead with 10 men.

However, having secured the three points, McCann refused to criticise his player. “He’s disconsolate, like he was after the play-off final. I defended him then and I’ll defend him again now,” he said.

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“He knows he made an error of judgement; it was a rush of blood on Aaron’s behalf. The centre-half [Vilcu] is an experienced player and he got stuck into Aaron and left his foot in on him, and as a result he lost control.

“It’s very much a compliment when players are looking to chip away at you and unsettle your game. Aaron’s made a mistake and he’s apologised for it. As disappointing as it is he’ll learn from it and be better for it.”

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McCann, who recently celebrated his 10th anniversary in charge of Hendon, says his side’s unbeaten start to the season, which has yielded four points from the opening two games, is even more encouraging considering the current injury crisis within the squad.

“I’m really happy with four points out of six available as the squad is really stretched at the moment,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of bodies out at the moment – 12 as it stands. That speaks volumes about the depth of the squad we have and the performances they have produced over the last couple of games.”

Monday night’s victory took Hendon up to second in the table, following their opening-day 1-1 draw at Grays Athletic, and McCann was impressed with the character his side showed against Enfield.

He added: “On effort, willingness and resilience we deserved the win. To go down to 10 men after 47 minutes really tested our resolve.

“The fact we had a lead gave us something to defend and hold on to, which obviously gave the team the extra impetus to go on and secure the win.

“We have a lot of new bodies in and around the team at the moment, and they’re all looking to buy into what we achieved last year. If we can embed them in we’ve got a great chance of going one better and securing promotion.”

The Greens, who are unbeaten in 20 home league games, host Dulwich Hamlet at Earlsmead on Saturday - a side McCann thinks will be the team to watch in the Ryman League this season.

“I think Dulwich are the standout contenders for the division this season,” he said.

McCann added: “Dulwich have signed some very strong players who are not just proven at this level but the league above as well. So they’re a really formidable side and we’ll have to be at our best.”

Meanwhile, Kevin Maclaren and Casey Maclaren’s suspensions have been upheld by the FA after their appeals were dismissed at Wembley Stadium last Friday.

The pair were involved in a bar brawl when Hendon faced Wingate & Finchley at Christmas.

Club captain Kevin has been banned for the whole of this season, until August 2016, and his brother Casey is serving a suspension until February 1 2016.

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