Hendon score 1,000th goal under manager McCann en route to victory over VCD Athletic

Hendon defender Carl McCluskey in action against Wingate & Finchley in January (Pic: Derek Beech)

Hendon defender Carl McCluskey in action against Wingate & Finchley in January (Pic: Derek Beech) - Credit: Archant

Hendon scored their 1,000th competitive goal under manager Gary McCann and Carl McCluskey then struck a brace as the Greens beat VCD Athletic to move 10 points clear of the relegation zone in the Ryman League Premier Division.

The Dons fell behind in the first half but Kezie Ibe levelled – netting a landmark goal in McCann’s 12th year in charge – and experienced utility man McCluskey struck twice in a seven-minute period in the second half to send the hosts on their way to a valuable victory.

McCann said: “I am really pleased with the result – also the performance, but we are at a stage in the season where the result is all that matters at the moment.

“We have now got a bit of breathing space between the teams below us, but the job is not done yet and we have a number of very important matches coming up in the next few weeks. But things are certainly looking better than they did a couple of weeks ago.”

McCann made two changes to the side which had drawn at home with Hampton & Richmond Borough in the previous game – McCluskey and Adam Wallace replaced Dean Cracknell and QPR loanee Ben Pattie in the starting line-up, while loan signing Brandon Adams – who is also on QPR’s books – was among the substitutes.

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Hendon threatened on the break in the first half, with Wesley Fonguck twice going close to opening his account for the club, while McCluskey had a goal disallowed for offside. But it was VCD who drew first blood as their powerful striker Ricky Sappleton beat Joe Wright from 25 yards.

Their lead lasted less than 30 seconds, though. Two minutes before the break, Tony Taggart’s corner was headed on by Dave Diedhou and stand-in skipper Ibe forced the ball over the line to take Hendon’s competitive goal tally under McCann’s tenure into four figures.

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The Dons took the lead 11 minutes after the break, with McCluskey’s deflected effort creeping beyond VCD keeper Rob Budd and inside the post to give the visitors a deserved lead.

The visitors had another goal ruled out for offside – Wallace this time seeing his effort disallowed – but McCluskey put them 3-1 up in the 62nd minute, with Taggart the provider again as he blasted the ball home from close range.

VCD kept plugging away and never let Hendon find cruise control. Nigel Neita beat Wright all ends up, only to be thwarted by a brilliant block from Casey Maclaren, before Sappleton struck his second goal of the game with a fierce right-footed drive.

There was to be no late comeback though, as Hendon held on for an important victory on the road.

The Greens were due to host Leatherhead on Monday night but the game was postponed. The Dons’ next match is at home against Staines Town on Saturday (kick-off 3pm).

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