|Competition:||Isthmian League Premier Division|
|Date:||Tuesday 29 November 2016|
Hendon's recent revival came to a skidding halt last night with a disappointing defeat at newly promoted Harlow Town in bitterly cold conditions. Had the game been scheduled to have been played on grass, there would have been some doubt as to whether the game could have gone ahead, as grass around the ground was solid underfoot - as it was the Hawks' 3G facility coped with the sub-zero temperatures without any hint of misbehaviour.
With both sides going into the game high on confidence following impressive away wins at title challengers (Harlow had won 3-1 at Havant and Waterlooville in the FA Trophy), hopes were high for an entertaining affair.
There was one enforced change for the Greens, with Luke Tingey replacing the unavailable Brad Hewitt and slotting in at right-back with Jamie Smith moving across to centre-back to partner Arthur Lee. There was one new face on the bench as well with former Dagenham & Redbridge wide-man Josh Passley joining Kevin Maclaren, Kezie Ibe, Leo Donnellan and Sam Murphy. Harlow were unable to field recent signing from Hendon, Khale DaCosta, who was missing the game through injury but did include former Premier League defender Ibrahima Sonko and another former Green in Fabion Simms.
The opening forty minutes were almost entirely devoid of anything approaching entertainment. Both sides exchanged misplaced passes with wanton regularity and when the opportunity to deliver a final ball into the box arose, it was either woefully misdirected or chronically overhit.
With five minutes of the half remaining there was a hint of both sides awakening from their respective slumbers. Alex Read turned Arthur Lee in the Hendon area and worked space to hit a fierce shot narrowly over the top of Andrew McCorkell's goal whilst at the other end, a superb flowing move involving Niko Muir, Casey Maclaren, Spencer McCall and Keagan Cole ended with Jerome Federico's left footed also heading over the crossbar.
Shortly afterwards, Karl Oliyide did excellently to dispossess the ponderous Jared Small on the Hendon left and cut at pace into the penalty area. His low cross was safely gathered by the diving David Hughes low down just as Lee was waiting to pounce. This was the first, and last time in which the Harlow custodian was forced to use his hands in a serious manner all evening.
At the other end, sloppy passing saw Read able to get beyond Smith and his low shot was repelled by a sharp low save from McCorkell. However, this was a mere stay of execution for the Greens as they fell behind on the stroke of half time.
A corner from the Harlow right was headed clear by Casey Maclaren. As the ball fell on the edge of the penalty area, a low shot was fired back towards goal first time. It was heading wide, but the alert Small got a good touch on the effort to deflect the ball back across McCorkell and into the back of the net to give the hosts the half-time advantage.
The first twenty minutes of the second period saw concerted Harlow pressure as they went in search of the killer second goal. McCorkell had already denied Read again with a low save at the striker's feet before a desperate clearance from Smith stopped a red and white shirt following up, when the Hendon keeper produced three excellent saves in fairly quick succession to keep his side in the game.
Firstly, he launched himself full length to his left to tip a fizzing low Joe Benjamin drive past the far post, then from a Layne Eadie free kick that looked to be squeezing it's way into the top corner he produced another full length save. Finally, a free header from a corner was brilliantly tipped onto the top of the crossbar and over.
Having ridden the storm, the Green attacking threat briefly flickered with Oliyide firing over the top, however by and large Federico and Oliyide were kept in check by Eadie and Craig Pope respectively, whilst Niko Muir got no change whatsoever from Sonko and his partner Lawrence Yiga. However, whilst there was only one goal in it, there was always a sniff of a change for Hendon to snatch something.
With twenty minutes remaining, Cole and McCall were replaced by Ibe and Kevin Maclaren in an attempt to give the Greens an added attacking threat and extra steel in midfield, however it was still the hosts, whose pacey direct style unsettled their visitors, that looked most likely to get the next goal.
It came with 6 minutes remaining when they made their height advantage at set pieces pay as substitute Leon Antoine met another floated right wing corner with a header that was every bit emphatic as it was thumping.
Bamba Ngamb went close to adding a third in stoppage time as he chased through and just beat McCorkell to the bouncing ball but the goalkeeper stood up well and Ngamb's effort flew over the top.
Moments later the referee, who had had an excellent game, brought a difficult and disappointing evening for the Greens to an end.
|12||Leon Antoine||for 6 , 81|
|14||Bamba Ngamb||for 11 , 87|
|12||Josh Passley||for 11 , 87|
|15||Kevin Maclaren||for 8 , 71|
|17||Kezie Ibe||for 7 , 71|