|Competition:||Isthmian League Premier Division|
|Date:||Saturday 03 December 2016|
Hendon bounced back from the disappointing midweek defeat at Harlow Town to earn a valuable point against playoff chasing Enfield Town. The Towners have been the Greens bogey team since they joined the Ryman League Premier Division, winning all but one, most recently a 6-0 drubbing at Queen Elizabeth II Stadium in September.
With Niko Muir leaving the club to join Leiston, Leo Donnellan returning to Dagenham & Redbridge and Jamie Smith wanted for FA Cup heroes Sutton United, together with other injuries and suspension, there were five changes to the starting line-up from Tuesday night. Darren Behcet, Josh Passley, Brad Hewitt, Sam Murphy and Kezie Ibe, were those who came in, while Omar Vassell and Andre Da Costa came back into the 16, on the bench, alongside Luke Tingey, Andrew McCorkell and Kevin Maclaren, the latter two not being used.
The start of the game was distinctly cagey, with neither team dominating. It took until the eighth minute for either team take a shot at goal and it was Keagan Cole, whose effort was saved comfortably by Nathan McDonald, taking aim.
Having been ripped apart by the Towners in the early season, Hendon were comfortable in possession and coped well the Enfield attack, prompted well out of midfield, by Billy Crook, Tyler Campbell and Tom Collins. The Greens' best outlet came down the right side where Passley and Jerome Federico kept Ricky Gabriel and Mickey Parcell occupied defensively.
The effort and energy of Murphy and Spencer McCall kept Hendon going forward, attacking the down the slope, but it was Enfield who had the next few clear openings. Dernell Wynter stung the hands of Behcet with a shot after 35 minutes and, a minute later, Harry Ottaway had the ball in the Hendon net, but it was ruled out by the assistant referee's offside flag.
Just before half-time, Ibe and Karl Oliyide combined well, but McDonald produced a superb double save. At the other end, Behcet made a fine save to deny Campbell.
Enfield started the more brightly, but overcommitted to attack. After 51 minutes, a cross from Murphy picked out Oliyide who had a free header. His effort was on target, but lacked the direction and power to trouble McDonald, who saved easily.
The lesson wasn't learned by the Towners. In the 55th minute, the ball was cleared by the Hendon defence - Hewitt and Arthur Lee were excellent throughout the afternoon - and it reached Federico, with only one defender close to him.
Federico sprinted down the right flank, beat Gabriel and then cut into the penalty area. Coming back as cover, Mark Kirby came across and ran into Federico, knocking him to the ground as the ball went past him.
The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot and, in truth, there was little complaint from the Enfield defence. With Finbarr Robins and Muir no longer at the club, there was no doubt about Murphy's position as penalty-taker.
McDonald tried to unsettle Murphy by telling the referee that the ball was not properly on the spot. It didn't work because, after respotting the ball, Murphy took a deep breath, composed himself and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way.
Enfield upped the tempo and created a number of chances. A low cross from Campbell picked out Ottaway, but his shot was well blocked by Ollie Sprague. A couple of minutes later Ottaway set up substitute Keir Dickson, on for Collins, but his long-range shot was straight at Behcet.
The Greens were still dangerous on the counter-attack, and Federico, Passley, Murphy and Ibe combined well to open up the Towners defence. When the ball came to Oliyide, he poked the ball just wide of the target. Had he scored from that gilt-edged chance, Hendon would probably have celebrated their first home League win at Silver Jubilee Park.
Campbell (saved by Behcet) and Wynter (over the crossbar) were the next two Towners to try their luck at getting an equaliser, but they both failed. In a bid to stem the flow of the game, Hendon made a double substitution, sending on Tingey and Vassell for Passley and Federico.
Hendon had lost their attacking outlet down the right side and it helped Enfield to ramp up the pressure. With 13 minutes of normal time remaining, the Towners efforts got their reward.
The goal was almost a carbon copy of the Hendon one, not only in that the No.11 (Parcell) was bundled over in the penalty area, but also that the spot kick, from Crook, sent the goalkeeper the wrong way. It should also be noted that neither offending defender received a card.
Vassell had a chance for Hendon to regain the lead when he received the ball out on the right flank, with only two defenders covering Ibe and Oliyide. Unfortunately, the cross was over-struck and the ball went harmlessly out of play.
A minute later, Da Costa came on for Oliyide, leaving Ibe to plough a rather lonely furrow up front. More importantly, Hendon were determined to come away with a point, so defending was the prime concern.
Wynter was set up by Ottaway, but Behcet made a comfortable save with the narrow angle an almost impossible one to embarrass the goalkeeper. As the game moved into stoppage time, Crook fired a shot which Behcet couldn't hold and the ball was hurried out for a corner, just before Ottaway's replacement Bobby Devyne could reach it.
The corner was curled into the danger area and Kirby almost atoned for his error for the Hendon goal with a header at goal. Behcet, however, was perfectly positioned and it made his save very comfortable.
When the final whistle went it was the Hendon fans and players who were the happier. But, in truth, a draw was probably the right result, neither team really having done to take all three points.
It left the Greens two points and three places above the relegation zone, while the Towners remained in sixth place, two points off the playoffs. Such is the closeness of the division, however, is that only eight points separate the teams.
|12||Luke Tingey||for 2 , 70|
|14||Andre Da Costa||for 10 , 84|
|15||Omar Vassell||for 11 , 70|
|15||Bobby Devyne||for 10 , 84|
|16||Kier Dickson||for 8 , 54|