|Competition:||Isthmian League Premier Division|
|Date:||Tuesday 07 March 2017|
Hendon made it back to back Ryman League Premier Division victories for the first time in more than a year when the returning Khale Da Costa scored in the first minute of second half additional time to break what had been a remarkably uneventful evening.
With Reis Stanislaus away on work commitments, Da Costa came into the team to provide levels of both speed and width which none of the other forward players can offer. It proved to be an inspired selection by manager Gary McCann as it was Da Costa who broke clear of the last line of defence before placing his shot perfectly just inside the post.
What had gone before was not the most exciting or thrilling match ever seen. But Hendon, facing a club with a massive budget and signing players to bolster what the Blues believe to be dwindling playoff hopes, had the stinging sense of injustice which came from the abandonment a month earlier - the decision to call off the game was absolutely right, but the Greens were leading 2-0 and in complete control after 35 minutes.
The Hendon defence was outstanding throughout the evening and Tom Lovelock had one of his quieter outings. He was helped by Mekhi McLeod's one-man shoot-on-sight policy which bore no fruit and frustrated well-placed team-mates who watched shots sail very wide or very high of the target. There was one effort on target, it rolled straight at the goalkeeper with no real pace.
Billericay did suffer a blow midway through the first half when Billy Bricknell, a two-goal scorer in the reverse fixture ten days earlier, collected a boot to the head. The striker was stooping as the Hendon foot went up towards a high-bouncing ball and the contact was entirely accidental.
With his left eye closing rapidly, Bricknell was led from the field and went off to hospital. Lewis Taafe replaced him, but struggled to make an impression.
When Hendon attacked, the Greens found the Billericay defence in as obdurately determined mood as their rivals. Keagan Cole had one shot which was technically on target but Alan Julian's gathering of the ball probably didn't merit the word saved.
Hendon did not take advantage of the slope in the first half, giving the Blues that benefit after the break. Most of the possession was Billericay's but the final ball was often lacking accuracy and James Hammond, Arthur Lee, Josh McLeod-Urquhart and Sam Murphy were outstanding. In front of them, James Harper, Cole, Matt Ball, Kezie Ibe, Marcel Barrington and Da Costa all probed but with little success.
Midway through the half, the Greens made a change, sending on Dave Diedhiou to replace Cole, thus stiffening the defensive side of the ball. Murphy was able to play in a more advanced role and his energy levels ensured Billericay had to be more alert.
One of the newest signings on the Blues side was former West Ham and England defender Paul Konchesky, who played in midfield. He came closest for Billericay, with a free-kick awarded for handball.
The ball was driven against the Hendon man, who could not get out of the way. Konchesky beat the defensive wall, but not Lovelock, who produced a superb diving slave.
Twice more Billericay fashioned chances, but their options were poor and efforts thudded into the side netting at the near post rather crosses reaching attackers in the middle of the penalty area. At this point, the Blues replaced McLeod with Kreshnic Krasniqi, reducing the fast-break option for the visitors.
With fifteen minutes to go, Ibe was sent clear. Julian came off his line and Ibe knocked the ball past him before the goalkeeper obstructed him. Ibe stayed on his feet, but stumbled and could not reach the ball before it rolled out for a goal kick.
The goalkeeper was outside his penalty area when he made his intervention and if Ibe had gone to ground, the referee would have been left with a major decision to make.
As the game moved into stoppage time, Hendon made the breakthrough. Da Costa was released down the middle, Swaine could not catch him and as Julian came off his line, Da Costa fired the ball into the net. He was immediately buried under a mass of celebrating bodies and it would be two minutes before play resumed, Da Costa having made way for Luke Tingey and Billericay completing the allocation of substitutions with Luke Moore taking over from Ollie Sprague.
There was one nerve-wracking moment for the Greens when a right-wing cross came into the penalty area. A massive penalty appeal, for handball, was met with a shake of the referee's head, the pile of players inside the 18-yard box blocking the official's line of sight.
After that, Hendon were able to see out time with no further alarms, and the three points lifted them up to 22nd in the table, only three points from safety and four from 17th-placed Folkestone Invicta.
|11||Khale Da Costa|
|14||Dave Diedhiou||for 7 , 67|
|17||Luke Tingey||for 11 , 90|
|12||Kreshnic Krasniqi||for 11 , 73|
|16||Luke Moore||for 3 , 90|
|17||Lewis Taafe||for 9 , 25|