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Hendon lost their final league game of the season at Carshalton Athletic on Saturday afternoon, going down 2-1 to the Robins. The match was one of the few to take place that truly had no effect on promotion or relegation, but with their London Senior Cup final on May 10th to come, the Greens' players were looking to cement their places in the lineup, while Carshalton were looking to avenge a 1-0 defeat at Vale Farm earlier this season.
Hendon made just two changes to the line-up that faced Billericay Town on Easter Monday, Eddie Munnelly and Belal Aite-Oukarim replacing Michael Peacock and Greg Ngyoi. Peacock dropped to the bench, while Ngyoi was rested. Carshalton lined up with Tashan Francis-Adeyinka at number 9, a recent signing with much to prove in this fixture after leaving Vale Farm last season without making an appearance.
Hendon struggled to come to terms with a rough and dusty pitch, and Carshalton took full advantage early on, sending an early warning shot across the visitor's bows in the second minute, with James Reading forced to push the ball round the post for a corner from which the Robins could only head wide.
However, within another two minutes the home side were ahead. The ever dangerous Sonny Ayres received the ball around 35 yards out. His dribble towards the corner of the 18 yard box looked to be covered by Casey Maclaren, but the defender overran both ball and forward as Ayres checked back inside. AYRES took a few steps further forward into the area, before sliding the ball across Reading into the corner.
Carshalton continued to make the early running, with a good cross from the left wing finding Francis-Adeyinka at the far post. The youngster couldn't get the ball under control though, and his shot spun backwards to find Tommy Williams lurking near the penalty spot. Fortunately for the Greens though, Williams' shot only found a defender's back and was deflected out for a corner which was comfortably dealt with.
Hendon finally had their first serious attempt on goal in the 16th minute and took an undeserving equaliser. Aite-Oukarim played a difficult ball in the air to Aaron Morgan around 20 yards from goal before peeling off into the area looking for the return ball. MORGAN however had other ideas, taking one touch to turn and with the ball still in the air struck a delicious volley beyond the wrong footed Craig Ross at the near post.
The Greens were lifted by drawing level and had their best spell of the game, more than matching the home side, with chances now being created at both ends. First, Ayres had a good chance for Carshalton following a free-kick, but after controlling the ball blazed over before at the other end Aite-Oukraim found himself in space around twenty yards out, only to find Sean 'Toole's back.
Ross gathered the loose ball and cleared, but could only find a Green shirt. Dave Diedhiou attacked down the right wing and managed to slide the ball just inside to Munnelly at the by-line. Munnulley put a low cross in which eluded Aite-Oukarim, but found Scott Cousins. Unfortunately for the Greens though, their skipper took too long to steady himself and by the time he shot there were 4 men on the line to beat. He opted for power and fired well over.
Morgan then twice set up his strike partner around the half hour mark, Aite-Oukarim first firing straight at Craig Ross from the edge of the area before sheer persistence from Morgan and Rakatahr Hudson saw a scrappy ball through to the Moroccan. He took a couple of steps forward to make space, but could only roll the ball wide of the far post.
The Robins eventually reasserted themselves, with decent efforts from both David Ray and Williams both being driven wide of the left post, James Reading being relatively untroubled for the remainder of the half.
Often this year, Hendon have put in a lacklustre first half performance, only to rally in the second and finish the stronger of the two sides, and it briefly looked like this would be the case as a 47th minute corner found Diedhiou at the far post. The tall midfielder headed back across foal where Cousin's shot was deflected back outside the area where Jamie Busby was lurking. However, Busby's drive struck a team-mate on the way through and went wide.
However, this was the last real threat on the home goal for over half an hour as the Robins took control, and Sonny Ayres was at the centre of everything they created. On the 55th minute, Ayres was released by an excellent through ball and slid the ball under Reading, but found himself called back by an offside flag, and just two minutes later a free kick from O'Toole found him unmarked in the penalty area. Reading was well positioned though, and Ayres' header was held by the keeper as he dived to his left.
Ayres then nearly found himself clean through again having beaten the offside flag, but this time the ball was just overweighted, and ran through for Reading to smother. However, the forward was not to be denied, and as the Greens committed bodies forward looking for their own equaliser, they were caught short at the back on the break, a cross from the left finding AYRES unmarked in the six yard box and with a simple tap-in for his brace.
Hendon manager Gary McCann responded with a rare triple substitution, withdrawing Craig Vargas, Hudson and Aite-Ouakrim in favour of Danny Dyer, Bradley Ambrose and Barkley Miguel Panzo in an attempt to salvage something from the game, yet it was Carshalton who had the next chance. With 15 minutes left on the clock, Carshalton found Justyn Roberts from a corner. The defender - who had been equal to high-balls played by the Greens through the middle all game - powered his header towards goal, but found Reading equal to his effort and although the Robins earned a second and third corner they failed to trouble the target.
There was time late on for a few late efforts from the Greens as they finally found their feet in the last five minutes. A teasing cross from Danny Dyer just eluded Diedhou's right foot at the far post when nearly any touch would have directed the ball in, then in the final minute Maclaren nearly redeemed himself as he received the ball wide in the six yard box only to find Craig Ross in good form.
An unimpressed Gary McCann made his displeasure clear after the final whistle, stating "I think we got exactly what we deserved today; nothing. I told the players beforehand they were playing for their place in the final and only two or three of them deserve it on that performance. I made that clear in the dressing room at full time and we'll need to to much more to lift the London Senior Cup on Tuesday week."