Match Report

Saturday 18 August 2001
Isthmian League Premier Division

Match Report

Hendon fans knew, as soon as the Ryman League Premier Division fixtures were released, that the Dons would have their work cut out to record an opening day victory. Their record at Purfleet in 5 previous visits was 1 goal scored and 2 points collected. After Saturday, the only thing that changed was the number of games played, up to 6, because Purfleet recorded a 2-0 victory. In fact, in 8 visits to the Thurrock Hotel, Hendon have yet to score at the clubhouse end of the ground.

Dave Anderson's first competitive line-up as Hendon manager showed much inexperience, with Ricci Crace, Micky Woolner and David Hook making their debuts, the first two being new to this level. Purfleet meanwhile were brimming with experience, including the ever-impressive Jimmy McFarlane, who was making his 400th first-team appearance for the club.

The match was nearly delayed as match referee Gary Young was not at the ground in time for kick-off. Senior assistant referee Steve Child took over with a local official carrying the flag.

With a little composure, Hendon might have taken the lead inside 30 seconds. After just 25 seconds, Ross Pickett sent Marvyn Watson clear in space but he rushed his shot sending it high and wide from 18 yards.

After a minute, Ross Pickett was booked for a dangerous aerial challenge on Gary Howard, who needed treatment before continuing. The caution certainly had the referee's desired effect on Pickett, who was forced to be tentative when making any challenges.

Purfleet recovered from this early shock and began to dominate. Jon Keeling linked well with Martin Buglione, but when the ball came to Steve Marshall, he fired wide from close range.

Hendon ignored the warning and, after 7 minutes, found themselves a goal down. A free kick was knocked into the penalty area. The ball was knocked down and quickly passed to BUGLIONE, who side-footed home from 8 yards without a Hendon defender in hailing distance. Appeals that the goal was offside by the orange-clad defenders were brushed aside by Mr Child who said that Watson had played Buglione on.

In the 21st minute, an astute crossfield pass sent Dale Binns clear. He was unchallenged as he raced into the penalty area, but had Davis Haule screaming for a pass. Instead Binns elected to shoot and fired a yard wide of the near post. Given his success in similar situations last season, Binns can be excused for his selfishness, but Hendon really needed something in a hurry.

Instead in the 24th minute, they suffered another blow when central defender Chris Sparks limped off, to be replaced by René Street. It was a straight swap, with Gary Fitzgerald continuing in a right back position, where he did not look entirely comfortable.

In the 30th minute, an acrobatic scissors kick from Pickett had Steve Mead scrambling across his goal to make a save, but the ball was not travelling particularly quickly. Five minutes later, Mead showed great speed off his line as he blocked a shot from Woolner, who had worked an opening for himself.

A magnificent strike from Martin LING turned out to be the last goal action of the match. In the 38th minute, he collected a loose ball about 10 yards from the Hendon penalty area and, with minimal backlift, fired a shot that arrowed into the bottom corner beyond Hook's dive.

Ninety seconds later, Hendon should have had a penalty when Ricci Crace was clattered into by Greg Berry as the young striker went to meet a cross from Woolner. Mr Child, however, didn't give the decision.

All of the above suggests that Hendon were little unlucky to be behind, but this is not the case. Purfleet had dominated most of the period and could easily have been further in front. Hook produced two excellent saves and Pufleeet wasted a number of other gilt-edged chances as the Hendon defence was stretched hither and thither.

In the second half, Hendon did much better. They denied Purfleet space in midfield, aided by the arrival at half time of Mr Young, who was more capable than Mr Child of differentiating between honest endeavour and foul play. He was however, lenient to towards Street, who really should have been cautioned for a clumsy, but not malicious challenge on Keeling, who was scythed down as both players stretched for the ball.

Hook had little to do until the 87th minute, when he made a smart save low by his right post. The closest Hendon came to a goal were a free-kick from Woolner that Mead saved at full and a header from Fitzgerald that came off the inside of the post, struck the arm of Purfleet defender as he turned to see where the ball went and the danger was cleared in typical uncompromising, effective Purfleet style. It is a wonder to Hendon fans that Fleet ever lose a game. Defensively very sound, even under extreme pressure they always seem to find a player who can clear the danger.

"The damage was done by the first goal," admitted Mr Anderson. "I thought after the first 20 minutes, when we very poor, it was quite even, but we did better than them in the second half."

Report by David Ballheimer


David Hook
Michael Woolner
Simon Clarke
Marvyn Watson
Paul Towler
Gary Fitzgerald
Ricci Crace
Chris Sparks
Davis Haule
Ross Pickett
Dale Binns
Rene Street
Jon-Barrie Bates

Match Events

Rene Street replaced Chris Sparks
Jon-Barrie Bates replaced Ross Pickett


Squad unknown