First midweek of the new season, so it must be Silver Jubilee Park, the home of Hendon FC, for their opening home league fixture in the Southern League. The visitors were Walton Casuals ( relatively speaking – one of the shorter midweek trips in this division) who are enjoying their first season at Step 3 under the management of Anthony Gale, son of Casuals chairman and former West Ham defender Tony Gale.
A perfect evening for football, still warm enough for a t-shirt at a push (how much longer will this last!) and the 4G pitch which as a purist i always have reservations about but i must admit does help at this level, allowing teams to get the ball down and try and play, especially during the heavy pitch winter months. And outside of that the pitch has allowed an enormous amount of community and pitch hire activity to the benefit of everyone at Silver Jubilee Park , Hendon & Edgware Town football clubs.
Hendon kept a similar starting 11 to Saturday but one key change saw Rene Howe drop to the bench and Ricardo German, Saturday’s goalscorer play a more central role up front, which was to bear fruit during the first half.
After early goal mouth action at both ends, Hendon took a foothold in the game midway through the first half, with a couple of goals in quick succession. Firstly Luke Tingey headed home a really inviting corner from skipper Lee Chappell in the 17th minute, one of those set piece deliveries that is begging to be put away and it was, as Tingey towered above a rather static defence and opening the scoring.
Hendon stepped things up a gear and were rewarded with a second goal in the 25th minute, which was all down to the persistence of Ricardo German as he evaded several challenges on a great run into the six yard box before managing to hook the ball under the keeper and into the net, for a fabulous solo goal.
Late in the first half, Walton Casuals were given a potential route back into the game with a penalty for a late challenge but Hendon goalkeeper Danny Boness was equal to Kyron Farrell’s strike, diving to his left to push the penalty away.
German sadly had to be replaced at the break after suffering an injury late in the first half but it didn’t affect the balance of the game too much as Hendon dominated the early stages of the second period and after a couple of good chances were missed, they put the game to bed when substitute Tyriq Hunte slotted home from close range after Hendon pressure following a weak clearance by the Casuals keeper.
Walton Casuals had their moments after that but overall the Hendon backline was relatively solid and on-loan keeper Danny Boness produced a number of good saves when called upon.
Still early days for Hendon but i think everyone connect with the club would have taken 4 points from the first 6 available and whilst not always free-flowing i think the opening two performances have given supporters an early cause for optimism in what was always going to be an interesting season given all the upheaval of the summer. Walton Casuals offered a threat going forward and with a bit more composure and luck could and probably should have got on the score sheet, however they looked vulnerable at the back throughout the game which is no doubt something they will look to address.
Probably not until 10 or 12 games have been played will we have a better insight into the overall quality of the division but with Farnborough the next visitors to Silver Jubilee Park on Saturday, Hendon have given themselves a solid base to build momentum from.