St Albans City continued their preparations for the 2020/21 National League South campaign with a 0-0 draw against Hendon away from home.
The hosts are managed by St Albans manager Ian Allinson’s son Lee and the links between the clubs don’t stop there. Former Saints players Solomon Sambu, Eddie Oshodi, Tommy Brewer and Shaun Lucien all now ply their trade with the North London team.
The match began with some early pressure from Hendon, as they looked to make an impression for the 200 spectators at the game. St Albans looked to create chances on the break, with Chid Onokwai using his pace and strength well to fend off the home team’s defenders.
The first chance came as a result of this manner of attack. A sweeping Saints break-away fell to Romeo Akinola to strike, but his shot fired wide of the Hendon goal with 13 minutes gone.
This signalled a change in the flow of the game, City now controlled proceedings. Dara Dada made use of this fact with a well struck drive which needed saving by Jonathan North between the Hendon sticks.
Following a scrappy period of the first half, a rare chance for the home team came in the twentieth minute as Dwade James was put through on goal. His scuffed shot drifted wide to the right of the far post.
In the 23rd minute, Chid Onokwai found himself with just the keeper to beat in a similar situation to that of Hendon’s James just moments before. This time North brought the attacker down in the box but nothing was given by the referee.
The Saints continued to manufacture opportunities as the half wore on, including a brilliant show of teamwork on the edge of the hosts’ penalty area. The move found Akinola outside the box but his right-footed shot was blocked.
Play was then pulled back for an earlier foul on Dara Dada, the free-kick was situated just outside the penalty area in a promising position for the visitors. The Warner-Eley-hit free-kick got a deflection on the way through and bobbled just wide of the left-hand post.
With half-an-hour gone Hendon’s number nine caused problems once again. He cut in from the right side of the pitch to get a shot away with his left-foot. Johnson saved the attempt well at his near post.
Matt Ball was the next to test the Saints back-line, his curling effort floated just over the bar as the match became increasingly stretched.
With 5 minutes to go until half-time, Hendon had a shot cleared off the line following a well worked situation on the left-hand side of the pitch.
City hung on well as the first-half drew to a close. The final action being a drive from Hendon’s number eight, which flew just outside the left post of the St Albans goal.
A flurry of changes came for Ian Allinson’s team at the start of the second half. Joseph Chidyausiku, Mitchell Weiss, Solomon Nwaboukei, Munashe Sundire, Joy Mukena and Michael Clark all received a chance to impress.
St Albans responded to the Hendon pressure in the first-half with a confident start to the second. Stanley set up Weiss on 49’ to shoot at goal but his resulting effort shot just wide of the right-hand post.
Stanley then received a chance himself after good link-up play between Weiss and Chidyausiku. His attempt was fired over the bar from inside the Hendon box.
The Saints momentum continued to grow 9 minutes into the second period when Warner-Eley’s cross was deflected by a home defender and almost found the back of the net. Instead the ball drifted just wide of the right post.
Hendon then responded to their slow start to the second-half with intent. Crosses, set-pieces and long throws were utilised by the hosts as they grew back into the game.
At the other end, Mitchell Weiss’ versatility was shown, with him utilising a deeper role than previously seen. A number of late runs into the box almost came off for the City man, but the final ball failed to materialise.
A mistake by Sundire then put Hendon through on the counter. They took too much time to craft an opportunity and the visitors’ defence got back to cover.
In the 77th minute, more good work by Devante Stanley resulted in a Warner-Eley blocked shot for St Albans. A free-flowing move then set up Weiss inside the box, a left-footed strike from him narrowly avoided the top left corner of the Hendon goal.
An outstanding attempt from the halfway line for Sam Corcoran forced a good save from Johnson, as he tipped the shot onto the bar in the closing minutes.
Written by Pearce Bates.