Match Report

Hendon
1-1
Staines Town
C Maclaren
M Bettamer
Match details
Competition: Isthmian League Premier Division
Date: Saturday 22 April 2017
Attendance: 420

Hendon will enjoy a 55th consecutive season in the top division of the Isthmian League after an agonising afternoon and early evening at Silver Jubilee Park on Saturday. Casey Maclaren's goal, a minute after half-time, was enough to earn the point that took the Greens a point ahead of Harrow Borough, who have been relegated following a seventh straight defeat, this one at Lowestoft.

There were two changes to the Hendon starting eleven from the one which beat Harrow on Easter Monday, James Harper taking over from Luke Tingey and Reis Stainslaus swapping with Marcel Barrington. Dave Diedhiou came into the 16 at Geo Craig's expense but he, like Daniel Rumens, was not called upon from the bench.

Before the drama of the 90 minutes of action there was a different type of drama - an 80-minute delay in the kick-off. A major road incident on the North Circular Road affected the Staines officials, who arrived late, but nothing like as late as the two assistant referees.

It is possible the match could have started with qualified referees watching as spectators taking over as referee's assistants, but the nature of the game and the importance to Hendon and many other teams, it would have put unreasonable pressure on them so the referee decided to wait. The assistant referees arrived soon after 4.00pm and the game didn’t kick-off until 4.20pm, when the other matches were well into their second halves.

There is no question that this gave Hendon a massive advantage, knowing what they would have to do to achieve safety before half-time. It is equally true that the circumstances were completely beyond the Greens' control and there was nothing they could have done to alter the situation and also it would have been even more unrealistic to expect the other games affecting clubs in contention for relegation and promotion to be delayed.

When things did get under way, the match had a spectacular start. In the third minute, Stanislaus and Kezie linked up on the left side and the ball was knocked back to Sam Murphy, who drilled a rasping, rising 20-yard drive which was brilliantly tipped over the crossbar by Jack Turner.

Two minutes later, Mo Bettamer fired an even better shot and it gave Staines the lead. Hendon's defending was a little lax as Adrian Clifton moved forward from the half-way line and he passed the ball to Bettamer, whose stunning 25-yarder arrowed into the bottom corner. The silence around the ground was palpable.

Bettamer almost doubled the Staines lead when fired off another shot, but this time Tom Lovelock was able to make a fine save. These were rare Staines forays because it was Hendon who set the pace, fired by the need to get back into the game.

Down the Greens right side, Khale Da Costa engaged in a fine battle with Makhosini Ryan Khanye and just about got the better of the tenacious defender. One such foray, in the 25th minute, resulted in Ibe, with the aid of a deflection, striking the outside of a post.

Hendon forced half a dozen corners in the opening half-hour, but the Staines defence coped well enough with the set-piece danger. The balance of the Hendon central midfield, James Harper breaking up play, Casey Maclaren energetically linking defence and attack and Matt Ball silkily sliding passes to men going forward, stifled the Massive’s central players.

Staines's forwards, Jonathan Hippolyte and Bettamer were given some openings, but Josh McLeod-Urquhart and Arthur Lee limited them to efforts from distance. There was also danger from Max Worsfold and Adrian Clifton, the former engaging in a compelling contest with James Hammond.

Turner was called into action again in the 31st minute when Stanislaus had another effort well saved by the goalkeeper. Five minutes later, Hendon went even closer when a superb strike from Maclaren left Turner a spectator, but the goalkeeper was able to breathe again when the ball crashed off the inside of the post and rebounded to him.

As the half came towards its end the other matches around the League were reaching their final conclusions. Fans around the ground were electronically keeping in touch with those games and there was hope for Hendon when Merstham equalised against Burgess Hill Town.

It dropped the Hillians back into the bottom four - and making the Hendon result irrelevant because the Greens would still have at least a one-point advantage. The news of Canvey Island's draw ensured their relegation, but then came a stoppage-time winner for Burgess Hill. It meant that, when the half-time whistle went at Silver Jubilee Park, Hendon were back in the bottom four and they would only move out if they achieved at least a draw.

Before the start of the second half, Keagan Cole took over from Harper, moving Maclaren into a more defensive midfield position. Within a minute, Hendon had the goal they craved.

A ball down the left was rolling up the hill and out for a probable goal-kick, nursed towards the corner flag by Mitchell Gough. Ibe, however, had other ideas and he got behind Gough to keep the ball in play.

His pass to Ball set up the chance for a cross and, when it came in, Maclaren had made the run and was able to power a header beyond Turner. It was the perfect start to the second half for the Greens and it meant that if they didn't concede again they would be safe.

As good as it was for Hendon, it was bad for the game because both teams took their feet off the gas and the match rather died. There were still occasional attacks from both teams - Hendon doing most of the pressing, but there were few chances at either end.

Stanislaus forced another save from Turner after 55 minutes and Cole twice made powerful runs into the Staines penalty area from deep. On both occasions he was stopped by last-ditch tackles and, a few minutes later, at the end of a superb, flowing move, he curled a shot inches over the crossbar. It would have been a magnificent goal.

With 11 minutes remaining, Barrington replaced Stanislaus and he had an immediate effect, beating Tyrell Miller-Rodney out wide. The ball was played into the middle of the penalty area and was helped on by Ibe to set up Da Costa. His shot struck the outside of the post.

Moments after four minutes of stoppage time were signalled Tingey replaced Da Costa, a substitution which took almost a minute to complete. And within seconds of their final change, Hendon had two frights.

First they conceded a free-kick five yards outside the penalty area, but the angle made a cross more viable than a shot. The ball was cleared to just outside the Hendon box where the Greens offended again.

This was definitely a shooting chance and four Staines players circled the free-kick, sizing up the best option. The taker was Clifton and his effort was on target, straight into the mid-section of the perfectly placed Lovelock, who held tightly onto the ball.

In the fifth minute of stoppage time, with the Hendon bench screaming for the final whistle, Staines had one final, wayward shot. Lovelock was not hurried as he took the goal-kick and, as ball reached the half-way line, the referee signalled the end of the match and Hendon’s safety.

In picking up 22 points from their final 10 games, Hendon almost matched their great escape of 1986, when six wins and five draws from the final 11 matches - 23 points - took them from adrift at the bottom to safety in their final game, though their last-game 4-1 win at Slough Town proved not to be necessary when the relegated teams - Epsom & Ewell and Billericay Town - completed their campaigns.

Report by David Ballheimer : Not to be reproduced without prior permission

Sponsors

This match was sponsored by Prostate Cancer Awareness
The matchballs were sponsored by John Rogers
The match programme was sponsored by James & Elsie Rogers
The mascot for this match was Amelie & Freya Wilby

Hendon

Home Squad
Shirt Player Info
1 Tom Lovelock  
2 James Hammond  
3 Arthur Lee  
4 Sam Murphy  
5 Josh McLeod-Urquhart  
6 James Harper  
7 Casey Maclaren  
8 Matt Ball  
9 Kezie Ibe  
10 Reis Stanislaus  
11 Khale Da Costa  
12 Keagan Cole for 6 , 46
14 Luke Tingey for 11 , 90
15 Marcel Barrington for 10 , 80
16 Daniel Rumens  
17 Dave Diedhiou  

Staines Town

Away Squad
Shirt Player Info
1 Jack Turner  
2 Tyrell Miller-Rodney  
3 Majhosini Khanye  
4 Bayley Brown  
5 Mitchell Gough  
6 Tommy Brewer  
7 Daniel Brown  
8 Adrian Clifton  
9 Mo Bettamer  
10 Jonathan Hippolyte  
11 Max Worsfold  
12 Nebay Haile for 3 , 74
14 Ryan Case  
15 Tom Day for 10 , 65
16 Devante McKain  
17 Wadah Ahmidi