Hendon opened their final season at Claremont Road with a victory over Hornchurch on Saturday afternoon. Eugene Ofori's 82nd-minute strike was enough to give the Greens all 3 points.
Debuts were given to goalkeeper Dave King, full-back Richard Evans and midfielder Andy Cook, while other newcomers Dave Hunt and Scott Cousins were on the bench and suspended, respectively.
The game had an explosive start when, after barely 90 seconds, King made a fine save with his legs to keep out a header from Steve West. The rebound fell to Andrew Martin, who blazed the ball high over the almost unguarded goal.
In the 8th minute, Martin Randall curled a free-kick over the Hornchurch wall and Daniel Gay gathered the ball at the second attempt, having fumbled the original catch.
Dale Binns gave Hendon fans a glimpse of what he is capable of with a fine run, but his cross was a little overhit. Nevertheless Binns' speed clearly unsettled Scott Gooding, who earned himself a 12th minute yellow card for bringing him down as he broke clear again. As the foul was committed just inside the Hornchurch half and near to touchline, a booking was the right sanction.
When Binns burst clear in the 21st minute, he tried a bending shot that did too much and the ball flew a yard wide of the post with Gay well beaten. But Binns really should have done better when he ran in on goal unchallenged and with only the goalkeeper to beat. His shot was not only too weak but also it lacked power.
By this time, Hornchurch had had a loud shout for a penalty turned down by referee Jason Murfitt. A long cross from Jon Keeling completed deceived King and was cleared by Evans, but Urchins players and fans were convinced that Evans had used his arm to control the ball. It seemed that the ball struck Evans who was not playing at it.
Gay produced a fantastic save in the 33rd minute to deny Cook a debut goal after Randall had flicked on a short corner. The former Southend keeper threw himself in front of Cook's follow-up header and the ball looped off him before landing on the roof off the net.
West and Keith Rowland then spurned other good chances for Hornchurch, both failing to hit the target. But King had to be well-positioned to block a close range downward header just before half-time.
The second half was nowhere near as entertaining as the first. Indeed both teams appeared content to stop the other playing so everything became rather bogged down in midfield.
Binns was stifled by a combination of Keeling and Gooding with the veteran Ollie Adedeji adding his presence if necessary. For Hornchurch, John Martin replaced former Hendon man Gary Kimble at half-time, but the positional reshuffle saw Rowland move to left back, which reduced the Urchins' invention.
In the 70th minute, Steve Butler got himself into a good position, but he ballooned the ball over the bar, but if had displayed a little composure he might have been able to pick his spot.
Five minutes later, Steve Forbes headed over the bar from close range following a corner , but he was off balance having been inadvertently tripped by the prostrate Jamie Southon, who had gone to ground claiming a foul as the ball was delivered.
The only time Binns got free in the second half resulted in the match-winning goal. He buzzed down the left wing and delivered a cross which Ricci Crace and a Hornchurch defender contested. The ball fell to OFORI, who struck a superb rising drive just inside the far post.
Although there was more than enough time for Hornchurch to get an equaliser, it took them about 5 minutes to recover from the blow and, by then, Hendon were able to shut up shop with ease.
"I am delighted with the result," beamed manager Dave Anderson. "This was a proper Hendon performance. We were well organised, well disciplined and we showed plenty of heart and determination. And that is what we are all about.
"I must say something about Andy Cook today. His wife is expecting a baby at any moment and he was able to perform that well although his mind must have been on other things."