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Hendon finally managed to beat Enfield Town in a Ryman League match when they won 1-0 at Earslmead on Monday night. They had to do it the hard way, playing for more than 45 minutes (including stoppage time) with 10 men.
The Greens' record against Enfield Town had been six defeats in six matches, and they hadn't scored in the four defeats over the last two seasons, so there was a pretty large monkey on their backs. It must be said it wasn't pretty, but given the circumstances it is a victory that will look beautiful in the record books.
Oliver Sprague, back after suspension came into the team at the expense of Sam Flegg, while Courtney Harris took over from Andre Da Costa. Flegg and Da Costa were joined on the bench by Adam Wallace, so Charlie Kuehn and Jake Cass missed out from the 16 on duty at Grays.
This was a whistle-filled, niggly encounter that only calmed down after the red card early in the second half. The three first-half cautions were thanks in the main to the referee's patience as he could easily have doubled that total.
As it was there had been nothing of note in the opening 20 minutes - Aaron Morgan's 25-yard free-kick wobbling into the defensive wall indicative of both teams' struggles to break down the opposition.
The big difference was that the Hendon defence had better discipline, especially in terms of keeping possession. When the Towners lost the ball they were frequently forced onto the back foot by Scott Shulton, Morgan and Mahrez Bettache.
It was a 21st-minute defensive lapse which resulted in the game's only goal. Morgan's persistence saw him get the ball off Samir Bihmoutine and he quickly cut into the penalty area, where Bettache was in a good position. He didn't get the chance to find him because Claudio Vilcu brought him down.
Kicking the ball away earned Jordan Lockie a yellow card, and Vilcu was, perhaps, fortunate not to have received the same sanction, especially as this was not his first offence. Last season, until the absent Sam Murphy took over full-time spot-kick duties, penalties were a weakness for Hendon.
This time, it was Morgan who took the responsibility. The run-up was in no way smooth and it was hard to tell if Morgan was trying to get into the head of Nathan McDonald or he was unsure of where the ball was going. When it came to making contact, however, even if the goalkeeper had guessed correctly, he would have struggled to save Morgan's perfectly-directed kick.
Dave Diedhiou soon joined Lockie in the referee's notebook, though Russell Short somehow didn't - but the omissions also included Stanley Muguo and Vilcu. The foul by Short offered Enfield Town their best first-half opportunity, but Ryan Doyle came closer to breaking a clubhouse window than troubling Joe Wright.
Ryan Wharton produced a superb block tackle to stop Corey Whitely as Enfield looked to get back into the game and their fans howled for a penalty when Doyle collided with Luke Tingey as they contested a high ball. The referee's view was that the Enfield Town player had leapt towards the vertically rising defender so there was no foul.
Hendon's makeshift defence, Diedhiou, Sprague, Wharton and Tingey, dealt very comfortably with everything the Enfield attack threw at them. The recent departure of Liam Hope - a thorn in Hendon's side in almost all of the six previous meetings was sorely missed by the Towners - as was Tyler Campbell, who took over from Joe Stevens, the second Towner cautioned, at half-time.
The game should have changed inside the first five minutes of the second period. Chasing a through ball with Vilcu - it always seemed likely that McDonald would be able to deal with the danger - Morgan clashed with the big Romanian, his foot high, swinging and not missing. The referee was perfectly placed to see the incident and he had no hesitation in producing a red card and Morgan - for the second consecutive Hendon home match - took the long, lonely trudge to the dressing room.
If a team is to lose a player for the duration, a forward is the easiest to cover, although the attacking options are reduced. However, holding onto a lead, the key defensive formation didn't need to change. In fact, the next incident of note came in the Enfield penalty area when Bihmoutine made a superb tackle to stop Scott Shulton, who was bearing down on goal.
Enfield were not without chances, but they were sorely lacking in accuracy. They had three or four really good openings, but failed to put on target and, in fact, the only real save Wright had to make, was to keep out a defensive header from Sprague.
Actually Sprague was in the thick of things. He made a superb headed intervention to clear a Campbell cross, received a caution for a late tackle on Whitely, nearly scored that own goal and, late on, almost chested the ball into the path of Aryan Tajbakhsh, only for Wharton to get a key touch.
Hendon sent on Wallace for Shulton midway through the second half and he ploughed a lonely furrow as the sole attacker - Bettache having dropped back to bolster the midfield with Lee Oâ€™Leary, Short and Harris. The Towners, aware of the damage he can cause with his runs, left Vilcu to deal with him, but they really failed to deal with their man advantage.
And Wallace almost made the game safe with a couple of minutes of normal time. He chased a seemingly lost cause with Vilcu, forced the defender to take a misstep, but McDonald was quickly off his line and was less than a metre away from Wallace when he toe-poked the ball goalwards, so made a brave block.
Although Enfield continued to press, there was a sense that they didn't have the confidence or know-how to score an equaliser. The Greens even had the luxury of making a second substitution, Flegg replacing Harris as the six minutes of stoppage time began. The Towners did force a couple of corners, but the resolute Hendon defence remained in control.