Hendon's five game unbeaten run came to a hugely disappointing end when they fell to a 2-0 defeat to Staines Town at Wheatsheaf Stadium on Tuesday night. Not even the mist could rescue Hendon on a night when they probably didn't do enough earn much in the way of good fortune.
The short-notice recall of on-loan Marc Leach by Yeading left the Hendon defence very stretched. Marvyn Watson's torn hamstring and Rene Street's broken ankle, together with Danny Murphy's suspension meant that only three defenders were available.
This meant a recall for James Burgess, who had been given a leave of absence a couple of months ago, and a reversion to a back four. Danny Julienne was the other player to get a first-team call-up, while two teenagers, Danny Edwards and Chad Griffiths claimed spots on the bench.
It took Staines all of 100 seconds to take advantage of Hendon's disrupted back division. A cross was not dealt with and when the ball fell to Jermaine Hunter, he wasted no time in placing it into the roof of the net.
In the eighth minute, Staines ceded any advantage they had gained with a moment of rashness from Jon McDonald. The defender allowed Ricci Crace to turn past him and get a free run at goal. McDonald, in desperation, tripped Crace less than a yard outside the penalty area and although Crace went down well inside the box, it was his impetus that carried him there.
The referee immediately blew his whistle, confirmed with his assistant that the foul had taken place outside the box and dealt with McDonald in the only way the Laws of the Game allow, by showing a red card. There was no protest from the Staines team.
Unfortunately for Hendon, Jeff Campbell's free kick didn't come close to troubling Shaun Allaway in the Staines goal. And that rather set the tone for the first half. Hendon's passing really wasn't very good and a failure to spread play allowed Staines to conserve energy.
Indeed the Swans had two other better chances to score in the first half than Hendon created. First, a mazy run and shot from Clement James was easily caught by Shaun Thomas. Then the goalkeeper made a fine save from Fiston Manuella, but he could not hold the ball and when AndrÃƒÆ’Ã‚Æ’Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â© Delisser crossed it to the far post, Hunter thumped an uncontested header against the bar.
Adding to Hendon's problems was the loss of Campbell with a dead leg after 33 minutes. He was replaced by Andy Cook, although also a midfielder a much less creative one. Campbell's last contribution was a cross which Ross Pickett won cleanly, but could not direct on target.
At least Hendon improved in the second half. The passing was better and Staines spent the first 20 minutes of the half penned in and around their box. After 49 minutes, John Frendo was bundled over in the area, but it seemed an accidental collision. The same could not be said for Matt Flitter's two-handed shove in Crace's back. The Greens, however, were not awarded a penalty for either incident, though both seemed more than valid appeals.
In the 55th minute, a cross from Iain Duncan deceived Allaway, who thought the ball was going out of play. Instead it landed on the top of the crossbar and bounced away to safety.
Four minutes later, Frendo somehow turned his marked and slipped past Allaway. Although he had a very acute angle, he somehow was able to squeeze the ball past the near post, but his effort had too much because it struck the underside of the bar and bounced down on the goalline. Had his touch been a tiny bit lighter, the ball would have floated just inside the far post.
Mark Cooper and Dave Hunt then tried their luck from long-distance, the former at least forcing Allaway to make a comfortable save; the latter's effort cleared the crossbar by about a dozen feet.
Hendon's best shot of the match came from their best player on the night: James Parker. He made a 40-metre run before firing from 25 metres out. The ball dipped and swerved, but Allaway made a fine save.
Almost immediately, another defensive slip gave Staines the chance to double their advantage and substitute Michael Currie did just that with a spectacular drive.
Cook and Hunter were then possibly fortunate not to join McDonald in receiving red cards after the pair clashed on the half-way line. The referee satisfied himself by showing a pair of yellow cards. Manuella soon became the second Staines player to be cautioned when he pulled back Crace.
By this time Hendon had given Edwards his debut. He showed a couple of nice touches and really should have crowned his debut with a goal when fellow substitute Jimmy Froud played him into space. With only Allaway to beat, the youngster dallied a bit too long and the goalkeeper made a smothering save.
"A lapse of concentration in the first couple of minutes was a hurdle too high for us to clear," said manager Gary McCann. "But we weren't good enough in the final third. I hope to rectify that in the next couple of days."