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Hendon were within two minutes of securing a victory over fellow preseason favourites Dulwich Hamlet in this early-season encounter but a late penalty earned Hamlet a point at Earlsmead on Saturday. Unlike the full-blooded end of season match in April, which also ended in a draw, this was a much more cagey affair.
The Greens made one change to the starting line-up from the victory over Enfield Town, Sam Flegg coming at right-back for Dave Diedhiou. Sam Murphy was back from holiday, so he took Andre Da Costa's place - himself off on a break - on the bench.
A more natural defender, Flegg showed - as he had in the Dulwich match last April - that he is a more than adequate full-back and he was pivotal in limiting the dangerous Nyren Clunis. On the other flank, former Barnet star Albert Jarrett was kept equally quiet by Ollie Sprague.
Both teams like to pass the ball around, but Hendon were happy to let Dulwich make the early running, until they reached the final third of the pitch. At this point the Greens' defence stiffened and resolutely repulsed everything Hamlet threw at them.
It took until the 19th minute before either team was able to get a shot at goal and it came from an unfortunate bounce. A long ball down the left side bounced higher than Luke Tingey expected and Jacob Erskine was able to get behind him and run towards the Hendon goal.
Erskine came in on angle and worked himself into a shooting position. Ryan Wharton was quick to spot the danger and his sliding block on the edge of penalty area deflected the ball away for a throw-in.
After 25 minutes Clunes went on a mazy run. He managed to get past three defenders, but then tried to beat one a fourth, but lost the ball and the chance went begging.
On the opposite flank Jarrett and Mitchell Nelson linked up well, but crosses into the penalty area were easily dealt with by Wharton and Tingey. It meant that Erskine and Damien Scannell tried their luck from longer distance, but green shirts were always in the way of them and Joe Wright did not have to make a save, other than a rather tame effort which bounced comfortably in front of him.
Hendon then had a trio of openings. The first was a free-kick just outside the "D" of the penalty area. Without Murphy or Da Costa to take responsibility, it fell to Aaron Morgan, thanks to a short Lee O'Leary pass, but his effort was quickly blocked.
The Greens forced the game's first corner - there would be only three in the 90 minutes - in the 25th minute, thanks to another shot blocked by a defender, and it caused chaos in the Dulwich penalty area.
Two defenders tried to clear the danger but managed only to set up Wharton. He tried to lift the ball over Phil Wilson as the goalkeeper came off his line but could not get it to dip under the crossbar.
Seven minutes before the break, Aaron Morgan had a much better chance. Scott Shuton worked his way to the edge of the penalty are and laid a neat pass into Morganâ€™s path.
The striker brought the ball under control, looked up and saw the whole target, guarded only by Wilson. A shot just inside either upright would surely have opened the scoring, but he fired wide of the left upright.
Just before the break, Dulwich centre-back Matt Drage rampaged out of defence and he tried his luck from 25 yards. The drive was certainly powerful enough, but it flew about a foot over the angle of post and crossbar.
Two minutes after the resumption, from a Dulwich free-kick, Nelson nearly opened the scoring with a powerful header. Wright plunged low to his left and saved at the foot of the post.
Hendon took the lead midway through the second half. Shulton attacked down the left wing, cut inside Nelson's challenge and, spotting Wilson slightly out of position, drilled the ball just inside the far post from a very narrow angle.
Surprisingly, Dulwich did not change their style or even show any great urgency in their attempts to get back into the game. Erksine had been replaced by Jack Dixon nust before the goal and, soon after, big striker Calum Willock was introduced.
Hamlet remained guilty of being too intricate and the well-marshalled Hendon defence seemed to read every move and every jink even before the Dulwich player had thought of it. Switch Jarrett and Clunis - so the left-footed player was on the left flank and the right side was patrolled by a right-footer - actually reduced both players' effectiveness.
With ten minutes remaining, Adam Wallace and Murphy came on for Morgan and Shulton, the latter having just been cautioned. Dulwich made their last change, Jarrett being replaced by Penny.
Then, with two minutes to go, out of nothing, Dulwich got their equal. It resulted from a run into the penalty area by Willock. He eluded a challenge and suddenly had only Wright to beat.
The goalkeeper forced the striker wide, but Willock touched the ball past him. Wright tried to push the ball away but succeeded only in felling the striker. There was no question that the award of a penalty was the right decision, and the referee was immediately surrounded by Dulwich players demanding a red card for the goalkeeper.
However, the referee had seen that the ball was rolling out over the goalline, wide of the post, and was not swayed. His decision not to show any card - like almost all of his decisions - was absolutely correct because it was clearly not an obvious goalscoring opportunity.
Ashley Carew lined up the penalty and his strike was powerful and true. Wright dived one way, the ball went the other, but even if he had guessed correctly, a save was probably impossible.
There were only three minutes of stoppage time, during which neither team came close to fashioning a chance worth the name, so it ended honours even.