|Competition:||Isthmian League Premier Division|
|Date:||Tuesday 22 November 2016|
Hendon finally managed to keep a Ryman League Premier Division clean sheet as they shared the points with fellow strugglers Canvey Island at Silver Jubilee Park. It would be fair to say the match was not a classic, with both teams keener to avoid defeat than taking all three points.
On the back of the great win at Leiston three days earlier, Hendon were, not surprisingly, unchanged, the same 11 starters and five substitutes being named. The only difference was that unused subs on Saturday, Spencer McCall and Kezie Ibe were used, and Luke Tingey and Sam Murphy weren't.
It took almost 15 minutes for either team to create any sort of opening and there was more than a hint of good fortune as to how the ball reached George Sykes. Harrison Chatting started the move down the left, and passed to Martin Tuohy, who set up Sykes. His effort was blocked by a defender right into the path of Mitchell Gilbey, who fired across the face of the target and wide.
In the 24th minute, Keagan Cole made a break from the centre circle. He danced through two tacklers and broke into the penalty area, where he rode a third challenge.
He could have taken a shot himself, but opted, instead for a pass across the penalty area to where Niko Muir was in acres of space. Muir looked to be in an offside position, and the Canvey Island defence - what was left of it - all appealed for the assistant referee's flag to be raised.
There was no flag, but the chance went begging as Muir scuffed the shot wide with the goal gaping. It was a gilt-edged opening and it certainly seemed that missing the target was harder than finding it.
A minute later, Brad Hewitt won a header in the Gulls' penalty area, but the ball flew straight into the waiting arms of Canvey goalkeeper Lewis Moore, who, like Hendonâs Leo Donnellan had played at Silver Jubilee Park as visiting players when Dagenham & Redbridge played a friendly against the Greens in preseason.
Although Hendon enjoyed the vast bulk of possession, the better half-chances were at the other end. Chatting fired over the crossbar from the edge of the penalty area, Tuohy had a shot which was deflected in a gentle, looping parabola towards Darren Behcet who made a comfortable, head-high catch, and Sykes missed the far post with a low drive from the right side of the box.
Two minutes into the second half, Canvey had another great chance. This time, an attempted block from Arthur Lee fell to Sykes, whose drive smacked off the inside of the left post and bounced back into play.
Sykes and Tuohy both failed to hit the target with efforts that went across the goalmouth, but Behcet had the shots covered. The danger was normally created by Gilbey, who kept Ollie Sprague fully occupied all evening, and limited his ability to join Karl Oliyide in left-sided Hendon attacks.
With a little more than 20 minutes remaining, Oliyide and Cole were withdrawn and Ibe - a former Canvey favourite - and McCall, respectively replaced them. Then, in the 72nd minute, Hendon had a very loud and valid penalty waved aside.
Jerome Federico worked his way into the penalty area, where he was sent tumbling by John Mbamarah. The contact was audible 40 yards away, but neither the referee, nor his assistant, saw anything untoward and allowed play to continue.
Ibe then set up Muir with a shot from the edge of the penalty area. His strike had Moore diving full length and the goalkeeper was grateful to see it curl just outside the post.
Sykes got the better of Hewitt with a dangerous run, but by the time the striker took a shot at goal, Hewitt had recovered his position and make a brave block. From the corner Steve Sheehan had an effort stopped close to the line.
Canvey went even closer when Tuohy tried to lob his former AFC Hornchurch team-mate Behcet. The goalkeeper did magnificently to tip the ball against the underside of the crossbar and then managed to keep the ball in the field of play. Gulls players looked to the assistant in the hope he saw the ball cross the line, but the flag stayed down.
Finbarr Robins took over from Donnellan for the last 10 minutes and he did his best to unsettle the Canvey defence, whose skipper Tambeson Eyong had already expressed his team's game target. "We're drawing away from home," he shouted to his team-mates, "keep the defence strong."
His exhortations nearly came to nought with three minutes remaining. Hendon won a corner on the left side and ball was curled in by McCall.
Hewitt got in front of his marker and his flicked header beat Moore as the ball flew towards the far post. There was a defender guarding the upright and he headed ball as Greens players and fans looked in vain for the assistant referee to signal a goal.
The tension grew on both sides - everyone was well aware that any goal conceded at this late stage would deal a serious setback to their hopes of moving away from the danger zone in the table - and the status quo remained after a surprisingly brief period of additional time.
Although Canvey had taken more attempts at goal, they had forced Behcet into making only one save. On the other hand, Hendon had enjoyed longer and better spells of possession, but they, too, had forced Moore into making only one save. Both teams also had one effort cleared off the line.
On that basis, a goalless stalemate was undoubtedly the right result, even if neither team was entirely satisfied with the result. The Greens did manage to move one place further away from the relegation zone, they are 18th, and the Gulls also moved up to be one point and one place from safety, but they have two of the four worst goal differences in the division.
|15||Spencer McCall||for 8 , 69|
|16||Finbarr Robins||for 7 , 83|
|17||Kezie Ibe||for 10 , 69|
|16||Tayshan Hayden-Smith||for 11 , 52|