|Competition:||Isthmian League Premier Division|
|Date:||Monday 02 January 2017|
Hendon suffered their sixth successive defeat as they went down 2-1 at playoff-chasing Dulwich Hamlet. The scoreline suggests the game was close, but the difference in quality was glaringly obvious, as much the result of one team overflowing with confidence and the Greens struggling to find a shred of it.
There were two changes to the Hendon line-up Quba Gordon and Sam Murphy coming into the team and Keagan Cole and Andre Da Costa dropping to the bench. Another change in the substitutes saw Mickey White replacing goalkeeper Andrew McCorkell. It was also revealed that Spencer McCall had decided to return to Wingate & Finchley where he was named as a substitute.
Before the kick-off, there was a minute's silence in memory of Steve Browne, who had played for Hendon in 1995â96, managed a number of teams, including Slough Town when Gary McCann was his goalkeeper, and a close friend of the Dulwich management team. He died, aged 45, from cancer on New Year's Day.
From the very start, Dulwich attacked with verve and speed, but they found the Greens' rearguard desperate to stop them. The defensive did their job passably, though that word is probably inappropriate because Hendon's passing was not close to good enough.
Balls from defence to midfield frequently went astray or put team-mates in trouble and this led to Hamlet counter-attacks that carried plenty of danger. Ibra Sekajja and Nyren Clunis largely were held in check by Jamie Smith and Arthur Lee, but when the crosses came in Tom Lovelock was excellent with his handling and Gordon and Casey Maclaren dealt with the twin danger of Gavin Tomlin and Ashley Carew.
In front the Hendon back four, Kenny Beaney and Ibrahim Kargbo regularly got the better of Luke Tingey and Dave Diedhiou. Out wide, neither Sam Murphy nor Aaron Tumwa got any change out Nathan Green and Mark Weatherstone, and the full-backs were more than willing to join Clunis and Sekajja in forays downfield.
There had been few clear-cut chances before Dulwich took the lead in the 25th minute. Clunis delivered an early cross which Tomlin headed goalwards. Lovelock produced a brilliant parry, but the ball landed at the feet of Carew, who had got clear of the last defenders.
Greens defenders looked to the assistant referee for an offside flag, which was not forthcoming. Carew should have scored with his first attempt at the rebound, but the goalkeeper denied him too. Unfortunately, Carew was still on his feet and he bundled the ball into the net over the prone goalkeeper.
Five minutes later, Hendon almost fashioned an equaliser with their only on target attempt of the first half. An attack down the right side ended at the feet of Karl Oliyide. His shot beat Preston Edwards but was cleared off the line by the covering Matt Drage.
It was a moment that took the wind out of the Dulwich sails for maybe five minutes, but the pressure resumed and Lovelock made a good save from a Beaney shot and palmed away a Sekajja cross as Tomlin was about to pounce.
In the first half, Dulwich had probably 65 percent of the possession; after the break it was 70-75 and it took Hendon almost five minutes to have the ball inside the Dulwich half, let alone cause problems for the home defence. It didn't help the Greens' cause that attempts to clear danger didn't find Reis Stanislaus or Oliyide, further ramping up the pressure.
Beaney, who had not scored since the opening day of the season, had his shooting boots on, and, in the 53rd minute, forced a fine save from Lovelock. Hendon were being over-run and, lacking offensive outlets, Tumwa was replaced by Da Costa just before the hour mark.
Two minutes after the substitution, Tomlin should have doubled Hamlet's lead but he fired wide from a good position. It delayed the inevitable only until the 62nd minute.
A free-kick carelessly conceded on the edge of the Hendon penalty area was passed to Beaney, whose first effort was blocked by the defensive wall. The ball came back to Dulwich's captain and this time Beaney's drive found the corner of the net, assisted hugely by a deflection which took the ball away from Lovelock.
Cole came on for Smith, resulting in further positional reshuffling. With a more attacking line-up, Hendon found their way back into the game in the 71st minute.
Stanislaus, who had been foraging for the ball far too deeply for much of the game was played into space by a good ball out of midfield. He had a battle with Michael Chambers and got the better of him before firing a shot which was half-blocked.
Much as with the Dulwich opener, it was the attacking player who reacted quickest to the loose ball and, from a very acute angle, and a possible deflection, Stanislaus rifled the ball into the net, via the far post. The silence from most of the 1,146 crowd was palpable.
The goal was a lifeline for Hendon and, for five minutes, Dulwich were uncomfortable. After that, the game became very open, though most of the chances certainly went the home team's way.
Chris Millar and Rhys Murrell Williamson were introduced by Hamlet for Carew and Sekajja, respectively, but the latter change came only for the final few minutes. Before that Clunis and Sekajja had delivered a number of dangerous crosses which almost led to goals.
In the 80th minute, Stanslaus fired a shot which seemed destined for the top corner, but Marc Weatherstone made a brave block. The ball fell to Drage, whose quick pass released Clunis.
The winger made rapid strides down the right flank and delivered a teasing low cross from the bye-line. Its angle was such that Lovelock could not reach it and Tomlin, who had got beyond Hendon's central defenders could hardly miss the opportunity but he somehow failed to make any contact with the ball, which was eventually cleared.
It was a huge escape for Hendon, and they had a couple more as efforts from Kargbo, Beaney, Clunis and Sekajja - his final action of the match - missed the target. Another effort from Beaney forced a super save from Lovelock.
At the other end, Cole drilled a 20-yard shot and was disappointed to see it strike Diedhiou as he tried to get out of the ball's path. A minute later the striker made way for Harris.
Dulwich's failure to put the game away, despite the legion of chances they had created, left the crowd in agitated tension. When Cole overhit a cross from a promising position, there were loud cheers, and these were doubled, moments later, when the final whistle sounded.
|16||Chris Millar||for 10 , 74|
|17||Rhys Murrell-Williamson||for 11 , 88|
|12||Keagan Cole||for 2 , 69|
|15||Mickey White||for 9 , 88|
|17||Andre Da Costa||for 11 , 60|