Hendon's early December Ryman League Premier Division form has clearly deserted them as they fell to a fourth consecutive defeat on New Year's Bank Holiday Monday, going down 3-0 at home to Wealdstone. If the Greens had been unlucky to be behind at half-time, they can have no complaints about the final scoreline.
Steve Good, whose loan spell has been extended for another month, resumed his central defensive partnership with fit-again Mark Cooper, while Ross Pickett moved from centre-back to centre-forward in the absence of Ricci Crace; James Parker was dropped to the bench. In goal, Dave King made way for Sean Thomas.
The Greens had no answer to the speed and incisiveness of Richard Jolly and Jermaine Beckford, Wealdstone's central strikers, who teased and tormented Hendon all over the pitch. They scored the first two goals and could have more than doubled that number.
Last season's League clash at Claremont Road was decided in the opening three minutes when King was dismissed; this match's decisive blow came after four minutes and ten seconds when a through ball released Jolly. Neither Thomas nor Good got close to the ball as Jolly shot home from 20 yards.
Hendon tried to hit back immediately and Cooper was denied by a fine save from Glenn Jackson. A couple of good crosses from Byron Bubb - whose younger brother Bradley was on the bench - were cleared with some difficulty and Ben Hudell was unlucky to see one goalbound shot blocked and another go just wide.
A goal seemed certain to come when Blaise O'Brien got around the Wealdstone defence and he crossed for Pickett, but he took the wrong angle towards the ball and was at full stretch beyond the far post as he sidefooted a volley into the side netting.
Beckford then brought out the best in Thomas, forcing the keeper into a brilliant and brave double save after he had broken clear down the right wing. The Wealdstone faithful were then sent into a rage as first an offside flag stopped another clear run for Jolly, although it appeared he was in his own half of the pitch when the ball was played to him; then Beckford appeared to be body-checked by Good as he ran in on goal. This time the referee waved play on.
In the 40th minute, the official was not so lenient with Chris Zoricich, who forced O'Brien away from the ball as it bounced into Jackson's arms. The incident took place on the very edge of the penalty area and, surprisingly, the referee didn't penalise the Australian for obstruction - as seemed to be the case - but for a push, so it was a direct free-kick.
Bubb's effort cannoned off the head of a defender and fell to Dave Hunt, who drove a shot inches wide of Jackson's left post with the goalkeeper well beaten. Cooper then had another header tipped over the bar by the back-tracking Jackson.
If Hendon had been a bit unlucky not to be ahead at half-time, there is no doubt they more than deserved to be level when they went to the dressing rooms. However, all their good work of the opening half was undone by a desperately disappointing and lacklustre display in the second 45.
Apart from an O'Brien shot after 47 minutes that struck Pickett and deflected high and wide of the goal, Hendon did not exert extended pressure on the Wealdstone goal for almost half an hour. By that time the game was effectively over with the Stones two goals to the good.
The goal was a penalty, after 63 minutes, expertly coverted by Beckford after Andy Cook had been penalised for shirt-pulling, and it led to an immediate double-substitution, the Bubb brothers switching and James Burgess replacing Danny Murphy.
All the chances continued to go Wealdstone's way, but a mixture of errant shooting and brave defending and goalkeeping kept the score down. There was never any likelihood of this season's two 5-4 scoreline being repeated, but there was a strong probability of Wealdstone getting four or five.
Jimmy Froud came on for the tiring Pickett, who had worked hard in trying to strike up a partnership with O'Brien, but he couldn't make a difference. Indicative of Hendon's problems was a move down the right flank, involving Iain Duncan, Bradley Bubb and Hunt; between the three of them, two defenders were able not only to stop a cross going into the penalty area, but they forced Hendon backwards.
As it was, Wealdstone only got to three, Gary Burrell finishing off a move in the 86th minute after the ball had bounced around the Hendon penalty area without being cleared after Sean Thomas had made a good save.
"I am very disappointed with our second half performance," said manager Gary McCann. "We deserved to be ahead at half-time, but we paid the penalty for a moment's hesitation in defence. But the real problem was that we could not deal with Jolly or Beckford anywhere on the pitch all game long."