|Competition:||Isthmian League Premier Division|
|Date:||Tuesday 06 December 2016|
Hendon's wait for a first home Ryman League Premier Division victory at Silver Jubilee Park may have gone on with this 3-3 draw against Folkestone Invicta, but this felt, in many ways like a win after the Greens fought back from 3â1 down with 20 minutes to go to salvage a point. This was a pulsating evening's entertainment with the result in doubt right up to the final whistle.
The Greens made a few changes to their squad for the game, more positional than personal. Jamie Smith and Casey Maclaren returned to the starting line-up, while Jerome Federico and Karl Oliyide dropped to the bench and Omar Vassell and Kevin Maclaren were absent from the 16.
It should have taken Hendon all of 10 seconds to open the scoring. The ball arrived at the feet of Josh Passley, but his effort, although beating Tim Roberts flew over the crossbar.
When Hendon were crushed by Kingstonian a few weeks earlier, a gilt-edged chance went begging in the opening seconds and, by the half-time whistle sounded, the Greens's chances of victory were slim at best. The same thing might have happened on this evening, though there were two good openings for the hosts in and amongst the plethora of chances created by the visitors.
The Hendon defence looked a little tentative and the runs of Miles Cornwell and Sam Hasler caused problems for the back-four. Ashley Miller really should have given Invicta the lead after 21 minutes when he rose highest at a corner, but his header went over the crossbar.
Passley had another chance to open his Hendon account in the 28th minute. Running diagonally from the right wing, he found himself with a shooting opportunity from an inside-right position 20 yards from goal. Roberts' judgement was either spot-on - he made little attempt to effect a save - or lucky. The ball went just wide of the far post.
When, in the 33rd minute, Hendon were again guilty of misplaying the ball out of defence, they were made to pay. The ball was played diagonally into the penalty area, Joe Taylor got behind Arthur Lee and Brad Hewitt. Taylor took a touch to control the ball and his slightly mishit shot beat Darren Behcet, who got a hand to the ball, but could not keep it out.
Hendon's response was positive and they were distinctly unlucky not to equalise within two minutes. A corner needlessly conceded by Sam Beale was floated into the danger area and Lee powered a header off the underside of the crossbar. The bounce favoured Invicta, and they were able to clear the danger before Kezie Ibe could reach the ball.
The home defence was found wanting once again in the 41st minute. When the ball was played out towards the Folkestone right side, no one had tracked back to cover the run of Jordan Wright, whose early shot beat Behcet and flew into the far corner.
And things should have got even worse for Hendon in first-half stoppage time. Miller found himself with a shooting opportunity, but Behcet was equal to it, making a good save.
There was much said in the Hendon dressing room at half-time and the players took on board the instructions given to them. They started very brightly and put Folkestone on the back foot.
In fact, it took only five minutes for the Greens to halve the deficit. A cross came in and was met with a powerful header by Casey Maclaren.
Roberts was beaten all ends up, but the ball struck the underside of the crossbar and bounced down. Before anyone could claim a goal, Roberts, turning around, managed to back-heel the ball over the line. The assistant referee, asked after the game, said that he would have signaled a goal even without Roberts' intervention.
Barely five minutes later, Folkestone were celebrating their third goal. Although the angle for Taylor's shot was very acute, Behcet was unsighted because of players in front of him and, by the time he saw the ball, it was speeding past him into the bottom corner.
Fifteen minutes into the second half, Hendon made the first of two quick substitutions, Federico swapping with Passley. Five minutes later, Maclaren made way for Oliyide and the two changes had an almost immediate effect.
In the 69th minute, Federico and Ibe combined down the right side, Ibe then cut inside and played a clever diagonal pass behind Frankie Chappell for Oliyide to run onto. The substitute was almost clear of the defender and was certain to have nothing worse than a one-on-one with Roberts.
Chappell, in a desperate move, clipped Oliyide's heels, sending him tumbling. It was left to Sam MURPHY to do the honours from 12 yards, and he made absolutely no mistake, drilling the ball into the bottom corner â the opposite to which Roberts was diving.
Hendon were now definitely back in the game and the Folkestone defence now was the one looking more jittery. Two or three half-chances came for the Greens, but the Invicta goal was not breached.
It wasn't all one-way traffic, however, and Folkestone were now happy to attack on the counter, a policy that probably should have brought tangible reward. The reason it didn't was that Miller, leading the raids, took the wrong option, be it passing, holding onto possession, or running into a challenge which was easily blocked by a defender.
With eight minutes of normal time remaining, Hendon launched another raid, Spencer McCall and Keagan Cole linked up, fed Murphy, who then passed to Ollie Sprague. No defender made any attempt to close down Spragueâs run towards the penalty area so he waited till his balance was just right before firing in a dart of shot.
It had swerve and dip, but Roberts still should have done better than merely getting his body behind the ball, without holding it. The ball bounced away from him and, fastest to pounce was Ibe, who ended up in the net with the ball.
A minute later, Sprague made way for Andre Da Costa, who immediately got involved in a move which should have brought Hendon a fourth goal. Beautiful interplay around the edge penalty area ripped open the Invicta defence, with Roberts out of position, and when the ball came across, Ibe only needed a side-foot on target to score.
The striker tried to be too clever and he directed the ball inches wide of the far post. His look of horror told its own story.
Folkestone responded by sending on Carl Rook, a man who has broken Hendon hearts on a number of occasions, and Euan Sahadow. Both defences were now at sixes and sevens when the ball approached their penalty areas, but somehow neither team was able to find that elusive fourth goal.
|14||Jerome Federico||for 11 , 60|
|15||Karl Oliyide||for 10 , 65|
|16||Andre Da Costa||for 3 , 80|
|12||Carl Rook||for 9 , 86|
|15||Euan Sadahow||for 10 , 86|