|Competition:||Isthmian League Premier Division|
|Date:||Tuesday 25 October 2016|
Hendon failed to back up their superb performance in beating Worthing on Saturday, and were rather fortunate that the loss to Burgess Hill Town was by a solitary goal. The Greens, in midnight blue, were comprehensively outplayed, but if Keagan Cole's 91st-minute effort had been six inches closer to the middle of the goal, they might have returned to north London with a point.
Gradi Milenge was given his first Hendon start, in place of the injured Kevin Maclaren, who was named to the bench, but was not going to be risked. It was the only change in the Hendon 16.
For three minutes, there was little to choose between the teams. Then, the Hillians began to take control. In the eighth minute, Billy Collings made a pair of super saves, first from open play, then from the resulting corner as Cheick Toure powered a header goalwards.
Another chance went begging as Burgess Hill piled on the pressure. This time it was a shot which failed to trouble Collings as it flew wide across the face the of the goal.
In the 15th minute, the Burgess Hill defence was found wanting, but Hendon failed to capitalise. Spencer McCall had a very good shooting opportunity, but he failed to make good contact and the ball was scuffed well wide of Max Huxterâs far post.
It would be Hendon's last foray into the Hillians danger area for more than 25 minutes. The pressure at the other end was relentless and a statistician noted that the corner count after 45 minutes read 9-0, but there were a couple of back-to-back set pieces.
Collings distinguished himself again with another pair of top saves after 21 minutes, the first from a free-kick and then from the resulting corner. He made another good intervention after 32 minutes when Pat Harding had an excellent opportunity.
Somehow, Hendon got to the interval still on level terms, but their goal had led a charmed life and the Greens attacking contributions had been, to be kind, negligible.
Eventually the dam had to burst and, nine minutes after the resumption, Burgess Hill scored what proved to be the game's only goal. An attacked down the left wing saw Lee Harding get to the bye-line. His pass to the end edge of the area fell perfectly for former Leyton Orient midfielder Dean Cox.
Cox, who is technically on loan from Crawley Town who cannot play him because of transfer regulations, took a touch and drilled a powerful low, right-foot shot into the bottom corner. Collings dive was in vain and Hendon were behind.
Adding to the Greens misery was a sudden downpour, one for which the locals were completely unprepared. It made the pitch a little bit slicker and probably helped Hendon more than their hosts, whose passing became less accurate.
Luke Tingey and Finbarr Robins were introduced at the expense of McCall and Omar Vassell, but they couldn't stem the green tide flowing inexorably towards Milenge, Arthur Lee, Chris Seeby and Mayo Balogun. In front of them, Casey Maclaren and Sam Murphy couldn't really make an impact and Niko Muir got no change out of Toure and Sam Fisk.
When Kezie Ibe replaced Milenge, Hendon suddenly began to create a little more in forward positions. The first time Huxter was called into action was in the 83rd minute, when he was smartly off his line to smother the ball at Muirâs feet before the striker could get off a shot.
Two minutes later, a shot from outside the penalty area took a huge deflection. Huxter was rooted to his spot as the ball swung back towards his left upright, but it would have needed a near hurricane force wind to have blown it close to the posts.
Burgess Hill, whose own form has lacked consistency, became rather nervous, and their defending suddenly lost its assurance. Hendon won a second corner in stoppage time and a deflection at the near post directed the ball to Cole.
He did not have time to steady himself, or take aim, but he was able to divert the ball very close to the target. It ended up maybe six inches the wrong side of the post, with no defender or Huxter, remotely close to being able to affect the ball's path.
If Hendon had snatched an equaliser, there would barely have been time for the Hillians to retake the lead. A point for the visitors would have been a huge injustice, but in the Greens' parlous position, it would have been accepted more than gratefully.
|12||Kezie Ibe||for 5 , 80|
|14||Finbarr Robins||for 11 , 60|
|15||Luke Tingey||for 8 , 60|