Hendon Under-16s opened their season with a Middlesex County FA Youth Cup tie at Hayes & Yeading, who play two divisions above the young Greens and were fancied to win by a hatful. It didn't quite work out that way as Hendon kept the game close, despite conceding after two and 14 minutes.
Hendon pulled a goal back midway through the first half when a free-kick by Shaquille Tynedale-Weekes was floated into the box. It was met on the half-volley by Billy Williams, who coolly fired the ball into the bottom corner. Buoyed by this, Hendon enjoyed some good possession, but without threatening the Hayes & Yeading goal. Five minutes later, however, Hendon were rather unfortunate to concede a penalty, which was converted to make it 3-1.
Hayes & Yeading then made it harder for themselves as they had a player sent off for threatening behaviour. It helped Hendon to get more into the game and Williams rattled the crossbar from 20 yards after a mazy little run. Unfortunately, with the last touch in the first half, H&Y broke through and made it 4-1 with a lob over Liam Hyland.
With the wind and the slope against them in the second, Hendon struggled to get forward. But the defending was excellent and Hendon conceded only one more goal, after 56 minutes. They did create a couple of half-chances, notably a Blake Antwi run into the penalty area, which the keeper smothered bravely his feet.
Manager Paul McGreal said, "I am more confident about the season ahead today than I was last week. I always felt that against a team two divisions above weÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢d struggle to get a result, so was more looking at the performance, and it was exactly what my assistant Liam and I were after - skilful play, commitment, and hard-work.
"We still need to work on some areas, but once more players are available again, we'll be more than alright. We told the players after the match, that had we played that game with last year's squad, we would have ended up on the wrong end of a score-line in the high teens.
"Our next two games (against Charville in the Harrow Youth League and Ruislip Rangers in the Harrow Youth League Cup) will be a realistic indicator of how the season will pan out.
"As for our best players, skipper Anthony Tang performed well in central defence, and made a number of vital interceptions, especially in the second half. But my man of the match was Billy Williams, who not only scored a great goal but also produced a fine all-round performance."