|Competition:||Isthmian League Premier Division|
|Date:||Saturday 31 December 2016|
It was a real game of two halves as Hendon completed a disappointing 2016 with another defeat, a bright first half being eclipsed by a disappointing second as Staines comfortably took all three points with a late Hendon goal making the score line rather flattering for the visitors.
The contrasts between the two periods might well be explained by an enforced change, with Jamie Smith coming off injured at half time, meaning that Luke Tingey had to drop back into defence. The Hendon midfield was therefore weakened, meaning that the Swans were able to press home their second half dominance with a flurry of goals that put the game beyond the visitors.
Hendon stated the game very brightly and were ahead within the first five minutes. Amidst some pleasant sunshine, a long through from Tingey was knocked down to Casey Maclaren on the edge of the box, the player continuing his run of goal scoring by rifling the ball in with distinctive power.
The rest of the half saw the home team apply most of the pressure, with only some impressive goalkeeping and defensive play from the visitors meaning that their lead was preserved. Hendon 'keeper Tom Lovelock made a marvellous save from a long-range Brandon Adams effort after 25 minutes, a close shave followed just a minute later when Wadah Ahmidi saw his effort miss the Hendon goal by a narrow margin.
Lovelock was soon in the thick of it again, pouncing on Ahmidi's header from a Staines corner. The mood of Hendon supporters was one of cautious optimism as half-time refreshments were consumed: an impressive first half performance tempered by concerns over what might lie in store after the break.
These worries were justified, as Hendon's enforced change - Merrick James-Lewis comping on for Smith - meant that any hint of fluency in Hendon's play was replaced by a more direct approach, which left Staines' midfield with plenty of space to exploit as they soon built up a head of steam.
On the hour mark Afolabi Coker equalised, as a Staines free kick (one of far too many conceded by Hendon) cannoned off his head and into the net. The goal had more than a faint whiff of deflection rather than nuanced finish, but these distinctions do not alter the result and the Swans were level.
Within another two minutes, Adrian Clifton had put the Swans ahead. From another set piece, this time a corner, the ball dropped to Clifton in the six yard box and he toe-poked it home. Rounding off a disastrous ten minutes for Hendon, a 70th minute free kick was again poked home by Clifton to make it 3-1, creating what appeared to be an unassailable lead.
A double substitution in the last ten minutes of the game - Sam Murphy and Malachy McGovern replacing Reis Stanislaus and Keagan Cole â galvanised Hendon's play to some extent, with the struggling Greens assembling a bit more of a credible threat on the Staines goal.
A late consolation from Maclaren, heading home from a cross in stoppage time, was only enough to make the score line look more respectable and should not be used to gloss over a worrying capitulation.
The result means that the Greens have conceded 23 goals in the last six games - almost four per game - a flow of goals that needs to be stemmed as a matter of urgency and the defeat means that they are now eight games without a win. It is the worst run of league results since the start of the 2006-07 season, when just two points were picked up in the first 11 games.
There are some grounds for optimism, with several key players in the process of returning from long-term injuries, but these players will have to hit the ground running if what seems like an inexorable decline is to be turned around.
|12||Jonathan Hippolyte||for 10 , 77|
|15||Tre Mitford||for 11 , 83|
|11||Andre Da Costa|
|12||Sam Murphy||for 7 , 81|
|14||Merrick James-Lewis||for 2 , 46|
|16||Malachy McGovern||for 9 , 81|