Hendon and Worthing shared the spoils at Claremont Road on Saturday afternoon, a result that probably pleased and disappointed both managers in equal proportions, proof, if ever it was needed, that it was the right result.
Following the appalling performance in the FA Cup exit on Tuesday night, Greens manager Gary McCann promised not only new faces but also a number of other changes. He was as good as his word because there were four changes to the starting line-up and four players signed during the week. Fit-again James Parker took over Youness Nabil, who had to go to Morocco for family reasons and Dave Hunt, cup-tied last week, took over for Danny Julienne.
New signings Ricci Crace, back at Hendon after an injury-ruined season at Cheshunt, then an unhappy two months at Braintree, and on-loan centre-half Marc Leach, from Yeading, came straight into the starting line-up at the expense of Ross Pickett and Mark Burgess, respectively. In addition work experience signee Craig Hughes, from Colchester United, was on the bench, while a fourth newcomer, goalkeeper Sean Thomas, who spent a few weeks at Hastings United, but is a QPR junior, picked up a slight knock in training.
The new-look team had much the better of the first half and deservedly led at the break. But they were a little fortunate, in the 11th minute, when Dave King failed to hold a Stafford Browne cross thanks to the swirling wind and legitimate pressure from Lee Charles. The ball bounced down for Sam Francis, but he shot wide of the goal on the turn.
In the 16th minute, John Frendo was put through by Jeff Campbell and he fired a shot that took a deflection and went just past the far post with Mark Ormerod beaten. Two minutes later, a fine cross from Crace picked out Andy Cook, but his diving header was brilliantly tipped aside by Ormerod low by his right post.
Two or three half-chances went Hendon's way before they took the lead in the 38th minute. It was very simple but effective. A corner from Danny Murphy was perfectly delivered into the path of RenÃƒÂ© Street and the Hendon skipper buried a header from four yards out.
Worthing made a change at half-time, introducing Andy Alexander in place of Charles and he made a big difference because the Rebels took control of the second half.
The equaliser came in the 56th minute and it was remarkably similar to Hendon's opener. This time it was a free-kick which was taken by Danny Davis. He picked out Francis, who scored with a near post header. While the Hendon bench felt the marking had not been good enough, it could also be said that both goals came as a result of crosses which were, quite simply, inch-perfect.
There was little disputing the sloppiness of the Hendon defending for the second goal, five minutes later. A short corner completely caught out the Greens, but the delivery from Browne was not good and the ball should have been cleared, rather than returned to the crosser. BrowneÃ¯Â¿Â½s next cross was also low, but it somehow eluded all the defenders, except for Worthing centre-half Marc Cable, who swept the ball home from close range.
In the 66th minute, Hendon almost fell two goals behind when another corner was curled in and Hunt completely miskicked his clearance. The ball sliced towards the roof of his own net, but King produced a superb reaction save to push the ball over the crossbar.
Hendon were pretty much out of the game in the second half. Apart from a Crace turn and shot into the side netting and a free-kick from Campbell that didn't quite curl or dip enough to inside the angle of post and bar, there was little for the Worthing defence to do.
Hendon's first substitution saw Hughes replacing Frendo after 67 minutes. Eight minutes later, Jimmy Froud came on for Cook and Crace's afternoon ended in the 81st minute, when Pickett came on for him. Worthing also brought on Richard Pacquette, son of a former Hendon striker of the 1970s, Henry Pacquette.
It was the Hendon changes that made the crucial difference. In the 88th minute, a long ball out of defence from Marvyn Watson was knocked on by Froud into the path of Hughes. The 18-year-old showed good strength in forcing a small opening in the Rebels line. Although Cable was able to knock the ball away from Hughes, he rolled it into the path of Pickett, who passed the ball past Ormerod and the ball rolled, almost apologetically over the line.
Mr McCann said, "On the whole, I was pleased with the general performance. I think the new boys showed quite a bit. But we have got to cut down on the individual sloppiness that gave away goals."