|Competition:||Isthmian League Premier Division|
|Date:||Monday 17 April 2017|
Hendon inched closer to safety with a rather comfortable 2-0 victory over Harrow Borough at Earlsmead, but the promised land - avoiding relegation - remains in touching distance rather safely entered. To ensure Premier Division football next season, Hendon - two points clear of the bottom four - must defeat Staines Town on Saturday, but a draw might be sufficient.
There were three changes to the Greens starting line-up (and four to the bench), Casey Maclaren, Luke Tingey and Marcel Barrington taking over from James Harper, Keagan Cole and Reis Stanislaus, respectively. The trio were all named on the bench, alongside the eventually unused Geo Craig and Daniel Rumens - Dave Diedhiou and Elliott Charles were left out of the 16.
This was not a great game to watch as the tension of the situation seemed to weigh too heavily on the teams. Marc Charles-Smith rather summed up the desperation as, in the 10th minute, instead of turning and shooting, he tried a spectacular overhead scissors kick which sent the ball some yards wide.
In the 90 minutes, apart from a few punches and one scramble late on, Tom Lovelock was limited to two very comfortable saves. In the first half, Michael Bryan's low shot was easily gathered and, after the break, a 20-yarder was aimed straight at his midriff.
Hendon were hardly more dangerous, but Kezie Ibe and Barrington were more of a handful for Michael Peacock and Steve Brown than Charles-Smith and Lewis Driver were for Josh McLeod-Urquhart and Arthur Lee.
All four full-backs coped well, Sam Murphy limited Bryan and James Hammond nullifying Joshua Webb. At the other end, Khale Da Costa could not get the better of Andy Lomas.
Hendon's midfield was more compact than Borough's and Maclaren and Tingey broke up Harrow's play with great effectiveness. The wild card was the skill and passing ability of Matt Ball and his experience proved pivotal for the opening goal.
In the 27th minute, Murphy and Barrington linked well down the left wing and Murphy crossed the ball into Ibe. The Greens' skipper controlled the ball and rolled it into the path of Ball.
His shot took a deflection and spun just inside the post with Brendan Hazlett unable to reach it. The goalkeeper felt he might have done better, but the truth is the deflection put the ball in a position no goalkeeper could reasonably have reached.
After the goal, Hendon began to exert to control and Harrow conceded a number of corners, but they came to nothing. The one time Maclaren was able to get clear of his marker, he directed a powerful header straight at Hazlett, who held onto the ball with Ibe sniffing for a rebound.
It took barely 90 seconds of the second half for Hendon take an insurmountable lead. Barrington tussled with a ball for George Nicholas and the Harrow midfielder ended up on the ground. There were no complaints that free-kick was not awarded and Barrington proceeded to beat both Peacock and Lewis Ochoa.
His path to Ball opened up the Harrow defence and he saw Da Costa in space with Lomas for once not close to him. Ball's clever pass was perfectly weighted and Da Costa was left with only Hazlett to beat - if he could reach the ball first.
Da Costa won the race and he lifted the ball over the advancing goalkeeper. Brown tried desperately to clear the ball before it crossed the line, but he was a couple of yards too late.
Harry Newman was the first substitute Harrow used, coming on for Nicholas, a move Hendon countered with James Harper taking over Maclaren. The midfielder was playing first competitive match for two months and didn't look like he had been away.
Harrow didn't seem to throw everything in to get back into the game, maybe because they respected the danger Hendon offered on the counter-attack. Nonetheless, with 11 minutes of normal time remaining Lhereux Menga and Kurtis Cumberbatch were sent on to replace Driver and Webb.
Menga, recently signed from Grays Athletic, had scored against Hendon at Silver Jubilee Park and been sent off in the return at Millfield. This time, he did nothing of note on the credit or debit side. Harrow did ramp up the pressure, but Lee and McLeod-Urquhart were utterly dominant.
Five minutes later, Ball made way for Cole and Stanislaus came on for Barrington. The two blue-shirted substitutes were quick to make an impression and nearly fashioned a third goal â one which would have lifted the Greens over Borough in the League table by dint of goals scored.
Almost immediately, Stanislaus attacked down the right flank, cut inside Ochoa and laid a diagonal pass into the path of Cole. The 17-year-old fired a shot which appeared to be on target, but it was blocked by Peacock.
Four minutes of stoppage time saw a further Harrow pressure, but the Hendon defence remained resiliently stubborn. The final whistle brought enormous cheers from Hendon's large band of travelling supporters.
|12||Lheureux Menga||for 10 , 80|
|14||Kurtis Cumberbatch||for 11 , 80|
|16||Harry Newman||for 8 , 67|
|11||Khale Da Costa|
|12||Keagan Cole||for 8 , 85|
|15||James Harper||for 7 , 69|
|17||Reis Stanislaus||for 10 , 85|