Saturday, February 3
Pitching In Southern League, Premier Division South
Hendon v Tiverton Town
Silver Jubilee Park . 3pm
WHEN Hendon visited the Ian Moorcroft Stadium at the end of September, it was Martyn Rogers’ last game in the dugout. A 4-2 win was the outcome for today's opponents, who endured a season last term much like the one we are having this, struggling through to finish one point and one position above the relegation places.
Fast forward to this campaign and Hendon are comfortably upper mid-table in ninth and into the fifth round of the FA Trophy. In the fourth round, they took the notable scalp of former EFL side Oldham Athletic, making the long trip up north to Boundary Park in winning that one. They will face Wealdstone in the next round, next Saturday.
Scoring the last-minute winner in that game was Niko Muir and his goals have been vital to the team’s success. His overall tally this season is 22 goals from 36 games; his record in the league is 15 from 27. This is Muir’s third stint with the Greens. In Hendon’s 2017-18 campaign, he accumulated 32 goals from 45 league games, which got recognised by National League side Hartlepool United.
Into his fifth campaign at Hendon, manager Lee Allinson has become very familiar with the Southern Premier League South, making two acquisitions from rivals Harrow Borough, full-back Sam Adenola and midfielder Billy Leonard, both being ever present this term and important players for our hosts.
Club legend, utility man Dave Diedhiou first played for Hendon in the 2008-09 season and has amassed more than 400 games for the club. Having also made in excess of a century of appearances for St Albans, the 34 year-old is as equally adept playing centrally in midfield as he is in the heart of defence. Diedhiou is a popular figure amongst the Greens’ faithful and is an undoubted influence on his team-mates, both on the field and in the dressing room.
In midweek, Allinson’s charges drew 3-3 at Silver Jubilee Park, giving the home fans a grandstand finish as a 96th-minute Muir strike saw them come from 3-1 behind. Defeat for Tivvy at Winchester City on Tuesday evening means that Leigh Robinson’s side have dropped back into the fourth relegation position.
However, such is the dogfight taking place in the lower reaches of the table, that it appears that one win can take you away from the drop zone and one loss can see you back in it. It is that precarious down at the bottom end.
Joe Parker, the on-loan Gloucester City striker, has hit the ground running with three goals in his first two games, and Jack Rice, too, has found the net with greater regularity in recent months.
There is now a healthy competition for starting places and there is definitely a different mentality required in a battle for survival, than playing in a successful team.
The Yellows do not lack talented players or the capability of beating good sides in this division, although they do need to find a greater inner belief and strength of character if they are going to get out of the woods.