Hendon made a winning start to their 2014-15 preseason campaign with a 3-1 victory over Erith & Belvedere at Pitch 2 of the London SoccerDome. This was the first time the Greens had ever played an 11-a-side match indoors, having previous played at 5- and 6-a-side tournaments at what is now Wembley Arena.
As preseason games go, it was pretty good entertainment on a fast, true surface, though it was quite humid under a low roof with overhanging struts that were in play. Of course, being preseason, there were around 40 players on duty and few played more than 60 minutes.
It took quite a while for either team to get a clear sight of goal and Hendon's first effort was a wayward drive from Peter Dean. In the 19th minute, Hendon goalkeeper Pedro Marenco made an athletic save, pushing aside a goalbound strike from Ryan Palmer.
A couple of minutes later, former Millwall and Fisher Athletic midfielder Charlie Hearn went off, reducing the Deres' effectiveness as they rely on his midfield talent and leadership for their go-forward.
Two of the Hendon triallists combined well to set up Hendon's first goal, Andre De Costa linking with Kezie Ibe, who pass gave new signing Tom O'Regan the chance to shoot. His effort took a defelction, wrong-footing Rilwan Anibaba in the Erith goal.
The response from the Deres was rapid, but the defending was not as good as the Hendon management team would have liked. It allowed Chris Hubbard the time and space to shoot and Narenco's attempt to make a save was not quite good enough as the ball trickled into the net.
Most of the Hendon starters didn't reappear, though Ollie Sprague and De Costa remained on the pitch. The newcomers were still coming to terms with the conditions and surrounding when Erith substitute Luke May found himself with an excellent chance.
Bobby Sturgeon was quickly off his line, but May really should have done better with opportunity. He failed to hit the target and immediately knew he should have done better.
Leon Smith and Aaron Morgan asked a few questions of the Deres' defence and the former was denied a clear run at goal by a magnificent last-ditch tackle.
Sturgeon made a good block when May had a shooting chance, though it was rather unorthodox work from the Hendon goalkeeper. However, Sturgeon was outdone by a piece of skill from his opposite number, Anibaba displaying neat footwork to sidestep Morgan and dribbling clear.
OK in a friendly, it was the sort of skill that drives the management team to distraction, because it will go wrong - and it may come at a key moment in a match that matters.
With 13 minutes to go, Hendon regained the lead. Michael Murray spotted an opening and took careful aim. His shot was going into the bottom right corner when a defender's intervention sent the ball into the opposite corner with Deres substitute Richard Stroud committed to the dive for the original shot.
The best goal of the game came in the 87th minute. Smith showed, power, strength and speed to create an opening. He then worked himself into a shooting position and made no mistake.
Deep in stoppage time, Sturgeon made an excellent save to keep the score at 3-1.