Hendon will probably be a little happier with the point from this goalless draw at Claremont Road than visitors Chelmsford City although it wasn't the right result for either team. A month after being beaten 3-0 at Melbourne Stadium, the Greens will have been delighted to keep a clean sheet; however, the inability to get a goal themselves made a draw the inevitable conclusion.
The Greens kept the same starting 11 who drew at Maldon a week earlier, but named Sofiane Mehdi, who last saw service with Windsor & Eton, to the bench in place of Dave King. And, as with the game in Essex, a strong crossfield wind made things very difficult for both sides.
Defensive discipline, so lacking seven days earlier, was evident from early on as a Chelmsford corner and free-kick were competently dealt with. The Clarets' defence was equally solid and rarely looked inconvenienced.
It was not until the 27th minute that a clear-cut chance came at either end. A slip by Mark Cooper allowed Paul Linger to take possession in space. He moved towards the edge of the penalty area before letting fly with a drive that beat Rikki Banks all ends up. The ball, however, smacked off the left upright and was hacked clear by a grateful defender.
Four minutes later, a powerful, on-target shot from Blaise O'Brien was blocked by a defender who threw himself in front of the ball. The rebound went to Ross Pickett, whose first-time strike was thwarted in an identical manner, albeit by a different defender.
Hendon's best chance came in the 41st minute when Dave Hunt was sent clear by Charlie Mapes. Unfortunately, the midfielder's first touch was a little too heavy and it gave Gavin King the chance to save at Hunt's feet. He made a bit of a hash of it and only grabbed the ball at the third attempt.
Although the assistant referee flagged for a foul against Hunt, the referee overruled him. Had Hunt scored, it would have been interesting to see if the goal would have stood.
The second half followed a similar pattern to the first: the wind making things difficult for all players and the defenders dominating the attackers at both ends. Both teams worked extremely hard, trying to play creatively, and didn't get frustrated by the conditions. It meant that the game, whilst not a heart-stopper by any means, was always interesting and far from stultifyingly dull.
A superb move from the Greens after 61 minutes almost brought a goal of genuine quality. It started from the back where Marc Leach fed Jeff Campbell. The All White passed to Mapes, who fed Hunt. The ball went to O'Leary, who quickly sent Hunt into some space. Hunt's shot flew just wide of the target.
Chelmsford tried to change things midway through the second half by making a trip substitution, bringing on former Millwall star Jamie Moralee, Theo Davis and Lee Williams for Richard Halle, Tony Boot and Linger. Danger man Adrian Allen remained as the Clarets' spearhead, but Cooper, James Parker and Leach pretty much kept him quiet in the danger area.
Hendon made two changes, introducing Mehdi for his debut, replacing Pickett. This came three minutes after Jamie Busby had taken over from Mapes. Neither of the two changes were able to influence the game significantly, but some of this had to do with the tiredness displayed by a number of their teammates.
In the reverse fixture, Chelmsford totally dominated the final ten minutes and could have scored half a dozen times. This time, they again stepped up the pace, but there was only one real chance.
Alex Fiddes, who prompted and probed away all afternoon from the heart of midfield, finally found the right pass through the Hendon defence. It released Williams, who had a clear run at goal. He shot early and low, but Banks pulled off a fine low save and did even better to recover and dive on the loose ball before a Chelmsford player could reach it.
"We were more than good value for the draw," said manager Gary McCann. "It was only in the last ten minutes that we tired, but that just shows how hard we had worked in the first 80 or so."