Match Report

Folkestone Invicta
J Walker, A Nathaniel-George, Z Joseph, N Muir
Match details
Competition: Isthmian Premier Division Playoffs
Date: Thursday 03 May 2018
Attendance: 722

Hendon produced possibly their best 45 minutes of the season as they dismantled Folkestone Invicta in the Bostik League Premier Division Playoff semi-final at Silver Jubilee Park. The 4-0 half-time scoreline was, frankly, flattering to Folkestone, who might have conceded double their deficit if the Greens had taken their good chances.

For the first time in a long while, Hendon had a full squad training in the build-up to the game, and it was an attack-heavy line-up containing Josh Walker, Zak Joseph, Niko Muir and Ashley Nathaniel-George; Jake Eggleton and Casey Maclaren marshalled the midfield, while James Hammond, Oliver Sprague, Arthur Lee and Rian Bray protected Tom Lovelock.

Invicta had not enjoyed their journey to north-west London and the way they started suggested that some of the players' heads were still on the coach. After a minute, the red defence was non-existent as Joseph ran forward. Tim Roberts came off his line without conviction, but the roar of exultation behind the goal turned to gasps of incredulity as Joseph’s shot slid a foot wide of the post.

In the sixth minute, Hendon turned their scintillating start into something altogether more tangible. A clever pass from Muir released Walker who had got behind Callum Davies.

Tim Roberts came off his line, but he was left stranded as Walker deftly lifted the ball over the goalkeeper. The ball bounced down in front of the goalline but never looked like bouncing over the crossbar and Walker was turning away in celebration before the ball hit the back of the net.

Two minutes later, the lead should have been doubled. The chance fell to Muir, but he put his effort over the crossbar when he really should have forced Roberts into making a save.

In the 13th minute Adam Yusuff had a shooting opportunity but the effort was deflected over the crossbar for a corner. It was cleared for a second one, this time from the opposite wing, and Davies headed over the bar

Just past the quarter-hour mark, Walker, who was at this time almost unstoppable, beat Micheal Everitt and got to the by-line before crossing. Mur flicked on the ball and, arriving at the far post, Nathaniel-George sent the ball past Roberts and it found its way just inside the post.

Ronnie Dolan forced a save from Lovelock following another Folkestone corner, but they were in danger of being overrun. Sprague delivered a fierce inswinging corner which crashed off the crossbar and, in the 27th minute, Roberts made a good save to keep out an effort from Nathaniel-George.

Every time any of Hendon's fearsome foursome got the ball over the half-way line, it was panic stations in the Folkestone defence and they were perhaps fortunate that two or three half-chances weren’t taken. There were also a couple of passes into the penalty area which were hacked clear from oncoming Hendon players.

For all of Hendon's domination, the lead was only 2-0 approaching half-time and, in January, Hendon had shown they could come back against Folkestone from three down and only 15 minutes to go. A third goal would give that extra breathing room.

In the 40th minute, Walker showed he was human because he again got behind the Folkestone defence and had only Roberts to beat. His shot was firm and Roberts knew he was beaten, but he had his angle just about right because Walker's strike rolled inches wide of the far post.

Three minutes from half-time that crucial third goal arrived. Joseph collected the ball out wide, drifted inside past Josh Vincent and smashed a shot towards the far post. Either Roberts was unsighted or he misjudged the ball's path or - most likely - it was just the perfect strike because the ball flashed just inside the far post for yet another in Hendon's extensive catalogue of brilliant goals this season.

A minute later, Muir put himself in the Hendon record books as the club’s fourth 40-goal man (Freddie Evans, twice, 48 in 1932 and and 44 in 1933; David Hyde, 59 in 1965; and Paul Whitmarsh 42 in 1999). He lost his marker in the middle of the penalty area and when the ball came to him, he wasted no time in sending it past Roberts into the net.

The half-time whistle was greeted with almost stunned disbelief because Hendon's fans could not believe how good their heroes had been. A Folkestone fan sitting in the stand mused that the Invicta half-time team-talk might have been quite interesting.

What was said by Neil Cugley to his players was not revealed but the basic idea was that Folkestone's very limited target was not to lose the second half. To that end, Everitt, who had endured a more than forgettable evening, was sacrificed for Johan Ter Horst, who, because of a knee injury, was not considered fit enough to play 90 minutes.

Invicta were definitely better and more competitive - the competitiveness going a step too far occasionally as five players were cautioned (Hendon had two) - after the break, but Lovelock was certainly not over-worked, for which Hammond, Sprague, Bray and Lee deserve enormous credit. The goalkeeper did well push away a sharp inswinging corner from Dolan and was grateful to see an effort from Ter Horst hit a post.

There were also saves from Yusuff and a safe catch of a header from Davies - from the same set play which had brought him a goal in January. But the best chance fell to Joe Taylor in the 80th minute.

He got behind the Hendon defence, who looked in vain for an offside flag, and was left with only Lovelock to beat. The angle was acute, but he still had more than enough of the target to hit, and the massed Invicta fans behind the goal were disappointed that he slammed his shot into the side-netting outside the near post.

Hendon did not reach their coruscating heights in the second half, but still created numerous openings. Joseph had an effort saved after 57 minutes, and saw a lob caught at full stretch three minutes later, Walker had been replaced by Dan Uchechi after 57 minutes and the replacement went close with a shot a few minutes later.

Nathaniel-George forced Roberts into another save - of the routine variety - after 70 minutes and, four minutes later the Greens made their second change, Sam Murphy replacing Joseph.

With 13 minutes to go, Muir went close to goal number 41, but Roberts was equal to the attempt saving at full-stretch. Maclaren was withdrawn in the 84th minute and his replacement, Dave Diedhiou also came close to scoring with a header from a corner, but he was just off target.

By now news had filtered through to Silver Jubilee Park that Dulwich had taken the lead against Leiston and it was looking likely that this would be the last hurrah for the Greens at home. They couldn’t quite sign off with a fifth goal, but that first half salvo had been more than enough to scupper Folkestone.

Report by David Ballheimer : Not to be reproduced without prior permission


This match was sponsored by Daz Bloor
The matchballs were sponsored by Lee Earl, Ron & Carole Saunders
The match programme was sponsored by SaiGon Dons, Alan Wightman, John Melnyk


Home Squad
Shirt Player Info
1 Tom Lovelock  
2 James Hammond  
3 Oliver Sprague  
4 Arthur Lee  
5 Rian Bray  
6 Jake Eggleton  
7 Josh Walker  
8 Casey Maclaren  
9 Zak Joseph  
10 Niko Muir  
11 Ashley Nathaniel-George  
12 Luke Tingey  
13 Dave Diedhiou for 8 , 83
14 Sam Murphy for 9 , 73
15 Michael Corcoran  
17 Daniel Uchechi for 7 , 56

Folkestone Invicta

Away Squad
Shirt Player Info
1 Tim Roberts  
2 Joshua Vincent  
3 Micheal Everitt  
4 Matthew Newman  
5 Callum Davies  
6 Sam Hasler  
7 Ronnie Dolan  
8 Jerald Aboagye  
9 Joe Taylor  
10 Adam Yusuff  
11 Kieron McCann  
12 Ian Draycott for 6 , 72
14 Johan Ter Horst for 3 , 46
15 Jordan Wright  
16 Nathaniel Blanks  
17 Nicholas Shaw