Hendon's struggles continued after a heart-breaking loss to Staines Town. The Greens remain in the bottom third of the Ryman League Premier Division table, while the Swans strengthened their grip on second place after this rather bizarre encounter at Claremont Road.
Following Saturday's disappointing loss at Heybridge, Hendon manager Gary McCann rang the changes. Mark Burgess moved to full-back, opposite Iain Duncan, while the midfield was re-jigged with Dave Hunt, Danny Julienne and Danny Murphy joining Andy Cook. Up front Belal Aiteouakrim took over from Ross Pickett, who joined James Burgess, Youness Nabil, Marvyn Watson and Jimmy Froud on the bench.
The first half had little to commend itself. Hendon's best effort was a free-kick from Murphy which was comfortably caught above his head by James Courtnage, who spent the second half of last season at Claremont Road. Staines had by far the majority of possession, but didn't really do much with it. Exhortations to the Swans attackers to shoot were mainly ignored, although Dave King made a good save just before half-time.
An unhappy management team demanded much more from Hendon in the second half and the comments in the dressing room during the interval were taken to heart, because the Greens looked significantly better.
Aiteouakrim should have given Hendon the lead after 51 minutes, when a pass from the dangerous Julienne released him. However, the youngster lashed the ball high over the crossbar when a little bit of composure would surely have brought him a goal. Less than 30 seconds later, Courtnage produced a superb save to deny John Frendo.
There followed an eight-minute spell that was truly weird. In the 57th minute, Staines took the lead without being close to the ball. A back-pass from Duncan bounced a little more than King expected, but he should not have allowed it to go between his legs for an own goal.
Four minutes later, King appeared to bring down Tariq Nabil as the striker tried to round him in the penalty area. The referee blew his whistle and, to the vast majority of the crowd, the decision was a penalty and probably a dismissal for the goalkeeper. He thought so, as he began to undo his gloves. The red card, however, went to Nabil, his second caution, for simulation.
The game returned to a more normal style after that, although the own goal had knocked the impetus out of Hendon. It was little surprise, then, that Staines doubled their advantage after 78 minutes. It was a beautiful, curling, left-foot shot from Jermaine Hunter that bent just inside KingÃ¯Â¿Â½s right post.
However, in the last dozen minutes, Hendon threw everything at Staines in an attempt to get back into the game. They were thwarted by Courtnage, who saved the game for the Swans with a succession of superb blocks and stops. The best of the lot was a sprawling effort low to his right, this after he had already moved to his left to block a Youness Nabil shot that was then deflected by Fiston Manuella.
From the corner, there was a mad scramble in the six-yard box and the ball trickled over the goalline, the last touch probably coming from Murphy.
Eight minutes of stoppage time were not quite enough for Hendon, with Courtnage producing more fine saves while a couple of other half-chances went begging. If there was one part of the Hendon performance late in the game that wasn't quite good enough it was the delivery from set-pieces. All too often, Courtnage was able to make catches under no real pressure.
"I felt we were totally in control for the first part of the second half," said Mr McCann. "But their first goal was a real slap in the face for us and we didnÃ¯Â¿Â½t really recover, although we should have done so."