|Competition:||Isthmian League Premier Division|
|Date:||Tuesday 07 February 2017|
Hendon put back-to-back solid performances together as followed the victory at bottom-of-the-table Grays Athletic with a thoroughly deserved point against Ryman League Premier Division leaders Bognor Regis Town at Silver Jubilee Park. The most impressive statistic was that the Greens twice trailed - both times from sucker-punch goals - and fought their way back.
It was a cracking evening's entertainment, with both teams more than playing their part in a game which ebbed and flowed throughout.
Both Elliott Brathwaite and Casey Maclaren failed pre-match fitness tests, meaning five possible centre-halves were missing - Chris Seeby and Quba Gordon with long and short-term injuries, respectively, and Dave Diedhiou visiting his family in Senegal (something the club knew about last summer). It meant that Hendon named an unchanged 16.
Bognor made the perfect start, scoring after barely two minutes. The Rocks forced a couple of corners and, from the second of them, the ball arrived at the feet of Chad Field, who despatched the ball past Tom Lovelock.
For the next five minutes, Hendon were severely stretched by a very confident Bognor line-up. Jamie Smith was given a hard time by Harvey Whyte, but he gradually quelled the danger. On the other side, in an unfamiliar role Sam Murphy also had his hands full, and just about coped with James Fraser.
Once the early pressure eased, Hendon began to make inroads into the Bognor rearguard and they soon got their reward. With Matt Ball and James Harper starting to control the middle of midfield, in the 13th minute, a through ball reached Marcel Barrington.
Striding purposefully forward, Barrington steadied himself before drilling a 25-yard shot that gave Dan Lincoln no chance. It was a spectacular first goal for the club.
Six minutes later, Hendon got a huge slice of luck. Beautiful play down the right side saw Dan Beck wriggle his way into a clear shooting position.
However, he had spotted Elijah Adebayo, completely unmarked, running towards the far post. The slide rule pass invited Adebayo to slide the ball into the net from about a yardâs range, but the striker managed to strike the outside of a post. There was a stunned silence around the ground.
For all the enterprising play from both teams, and the exceptional pace of the game, there were very few clear openings. James Muitt forced a relatively comfortable save from Lovelock while Barrington tried his luck again, but Lincoln was not unduly troubled by this attempt.
Going down the slope in the second half, Bognor certainly had the better of the first 10 minutes, but Arthur Lee and Luke Tingey were composed and there were two or three brave blocks. Hendon struggled to get the ball clear, but Bognor were also guilty of taking poor decisions in attacking positions.
With an hour gone, it was Bognor's turn to enjoy some fortune. Laste Dombaxe and Reis Stanislaus combined and they set up Ball with a great chance. His first shot was rather scuffed and was blocked on the line.
On the rebound, Ball was then denied by Lincoln, who threw himself in front of the ball. Then, with a third attempt, Calvin Davies made a brilliant goal-line block.
And it got worse for Hendon within a half-minute. The defence lost concentration momentarily, probably musing on the chances at the other end, and Adebayo atoned for his first-half miss by sliding the ball into the net from close range.
Almost immediately, Keagan Cole took over from Dombaxe and he brought a different challenge to the Rocks. Soon after, Kezie Ibe made way for Elliott Charles. The Greens' last change saw Smith go off in the 77th minute and Geo Craig was given a run-out.
Bognor also rang the changes with Muitt, Whyte and Tuck going off and Ollie Pearce, Alex Parsons and James Wild coming on. Pearce is always a handful, and he had one opportunity which Lovelock saved smartly.
It was the change at the other end of the pitch which had a much bigger bearing. With five minutes of normal time remaining and minute after Wild had replaced Tuck, Dylan Barnett rather needlessly conceded a corner.
The first ball to Cole resulted in a blocked shot, but he was quickest to react. No one came to close down the youngster, and Cole's drive crashed off the underside of the crossbar and bounced into the net.
With added time, there was still around 10 minutes to play and both teams commendably went for the win that - for entirely different reasons - they really wanted.
Charles had a shot blocked by El-Abd and then Stanislaus curled a shot over Lincoln, but it did not dip until it was over the crossbar.
In the last minute of stoppage time, Bognor had two loud appeals for a penalty turned away. The first challenge on the edge of the box saw defender and attacker arrive at the ball simultaneously.
Both players' feet were slightly raised, but the ball was off the ground and it was nothing more than a collision between two committed players. The ball was then knocked forward for Fraser, but Lovelock reached it first and palmed it away before colliding with Rocks forward.
Fraser went down, but there had been clear contact - albeit after the ball was played - and he was probably unfortunate that the assistant referee ruled that he had made last contact with ball before it went out of play. To be fair, there was very little complaint.
Had a penalty been awarded and converted, it would have been a cruel and undeserved body blow, but it wasn't and Hendon can take heart from two good displays and a point from the table-toppers.
|12||Keagan Cole||for 7 , 61|
|14||Geo Craig||for 2 , 77|
|15||Elliott Charles||for 10 , 66|
|16||Andre Da Costa|
|15||Ollie Pearce||for 10 , 63|
|16||Jimmy Wild||for 4 , 84|
|17||Alex Parsons||for 11 , 80|