Hendon matchwinner dedicates derby triumph over Wingate & Finchley to manager McCann

Kezie Ibe (left) challenges for the ball against AFC Sudbury back in November

Kezie Ibe (left) challenges for the ball against AFC Sudbury back in November - Credit: Archant

Hendon’s matchwinner Kezie Ibe has dedicated their victory over local rivals Wingate & Finchley to manager Gary McCann following the tragic passing of his brother.

Lee McCann lost his battle with cancer on Saturday and Ibe, who scored the decisive goal in a 4-3 home win, says it was fitting that the Greens got all three points for their absent boss.

He told the Times: “The team had heard that Gary’s brother was struggling in a bad way and he wasn’t going to be at the game.

“For the gaffer to miss the game was a big thing, so the players knew then how bad things were.

“He had missed training in the build-up to the match but I don’t think many in the squad knew how serious the situation was before then.

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“Everyone dug deep for the manager and got him a result on what must have been an incredibly difficult day for him and his family, so we were delighted. We were desperate for the win and were going to do whatever it took to get it for him, and we did that.”

The Greens fought back from 2-0 and then 3-2 down to get the better of their visitors in a seven-goal thriller.

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Ibe made the difference for the hosts, notching a second-half double as they secured a morale-boosting victory.

The 33-year-old has now scored three goals in his last two games and feels he is getting back to his best form after an indifferent season to date.

He said: “I’ve had a stop and start season and, with the results not going our way, it’s been magnified a bit so I’ve had to work harder to get myself back on track.

“I’ve had a few niggles that have reoccurred and have had to work on my fitness, too. Hopefully I’ve crossed that bridge now and I can continue this goalscoring run I’m on and help the team climb the table.”

The Greens remain in a precarious position in the Premier Division, and the veteran forward admits he has been surprised by their plight this term, but remains confident they can get themselves out of trouble.

“It’s hard to take – it has been surprising,” he added. “Most people would have expected us to be up there again this season.

“In football there are no guarantees though, and coupled with the fact we’ve lost several key players in my opinion and had quite a few injuries, some wouldn’t have found it a surprise that we’ve struggled.

“In some of the games we’ve been really unlucky and deserved to pick up more points than we have done.

“It’s been more individual mistakes rather than collectively which has cost us dearly, really.

“We’re still quite confident in the squad we’ve got though – it’s too good to go down. Hopefully our overall league position in May will reflect just that.”

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