Match Report

Stevenage Borough
Saturday 11 August 2001

Match Report

Hendon produced probably their best preseason performance for half a dozen years with a 1-0 defeat of Nationwide Conference Stevenage Borough at Broadhall Way on Saturday.

Another defensive reshuffle saw transfer-listed former captain Gary Fitzgerald playing at right back with Simon Clarke back at left back and Paul Towler partnering Chris Sparks in the middle of the back four. Marvyn Watson and Dale Binns supplied midfield width, outside of Ross Pickett and Paul Yates. The front pairing of Ricci Crace and Davis Haule continued.

After 15 minutes, Stevenage could and probably should have been 6 goals to the good. Darran Hay crashed a 15-yard shot off the top of the Hendon crossbar in the third minute. Dudley (DJ) Campbell shot wide after 6 minutes and forced David Hook into an acrobatic save.

John Dreyer, Sam Sodje and Campbell then wasted good opportunitites as Hendon were overrun by Stevenage's slick passing, astute running and sharp teamwork. It seemed only a matter of time before floodgates would open and the slaughter would commence.

However, a mistimed Ross Pickett tackle on Shaun Wray seemed to destroy Stevenage's confidence. In the 22nd minute, Watson had a good shooting chance, following good work by Crace, but he blazed the ball high over the bar. It was a start for Hendon, but they gained confidence from at least getting a sight of goal.

Campbell continued trying to lead Towler a merry dance - last season as a Chesham player, he forced Towler to score two own goals in the Dons' 4-1 defeat at The Meadow - but the Hendon skipper let him show off his tricks 10 yards outside the penalty area, knowing that a shot would probably follow. His instincts were good, something that could not be said for Campbell's shooting prowess. The efforts were either off-target or so weakly hit that Hook was hardly troubled by them.

Stevenage's movement continued to cause Hendon difficulties and a few tackles brought Borough free-kicks, but these were caused by mistiming and not malice. The Greens' robust play certainly made enemies of most of the 616 fans in the crowd, but Borough boss Paul Fairclough will surely be more upset that a number of his players appeared to lose their nerve.

On the stroke of half-time, Hendon produced a move of some class. Yates played a sharp pass into Haule's path. Haule got clear of Robin Trott but as he was running away from goal, he passed to Watson, who quickly fed Fitzgerald. His cross was aimed at Crace, but he could do no more than inadvertently knock the ball down into the path of PICKETT, who wasted no time in slotting the ball past Paul Wilkerson.

For the second half, Stevenage made four changes but they looked much weaker for them. Shaun Wray in particular had caused problems, but his replacement John Morgan looked distinctly tentative. Hendon, buoyed by the goal, probably just shaded the second half in terms of good chances. In the 54th minute, a powerful header from Pickett, following a Watson corner, was brilliantly parried by Dean Graygoose, but no Hendon player could follow-up to tap in the rebound.

Campbell became frustrated by Towler's canny marking and his passing became more infrequent while his shooting gained in waywardness. Hay, meanwhile, was getting almost nothing out Sparks, who thrives on this sort of contest.

In the 68th minute, Binns suddenly found an appetite for taking on his full-back and Sodje was suddenly forced to become a defender exclusively, critically damaging Stevenage's balance. Binns got around Sodje and immeidately found himself faced by Graygoose. The goalkeeper was quickly beaten, but Sodje recovered quickly to block Binns shot at the unguarded goal.

In the 72nd minute, referee Mr P Miller (Herts) finally ran out of patience with Pickett's tackling and he ordered a substitution. Lee O'Donnell came on, but it was clear that Stevenage had lost much of their appetite for the battle. Binns and Watson both forced Graygoose into making saves after the tiring Crace had been replaced Ghanaian Under-21 forward Eugene Ofori.

"I'd swap that result for a 1-0 on Saturday," enthused manager Dave Anderson. "It has given me a headache but a nice headache. It is great to get a result at Stevenage under any circumstances but we won't get anything at Purfleet on what we did at Stevenage last week."

Report by David Ballheimer


David Hook
Gary Fitzgerald
Simon Clarke
Paul Towler
Chris Sparks
Paul Yates
Ricci Crace
Marvyn Watson
Davis Haule
Ross Pickett
Dale Binns
Paul Johnson
Pat Sappleton
Lee O'Donnell
Mark Turner
Eugene Ofori
Dave Stewart

Match Events

Ross Pickett

Stevenage Borough

Squad unknown