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Match Report

Hendon
1
East Thurrock United
2
Date:
Monday 24 August 2015
Competition:
Isthmian League Premier Division
Attendance:
160
Venue:
Harrow Borough

Match Report

Hendon slipped to their first league defeat of the season - and only the first defeat in 22 matches stretching back to the end of January - when Lewis Smith smashed in a second goal in the sixth minute of stoppage time at Earlsmead on a soggy Monday night. This was also Hendon's first home League defeat in one week short a year and the first time they had lost to a goal in the final 10 minutes of a match for 15 months.

In truth, the Greens had been outplayed for more than half an hour and were lucky to be only one goal behind when they equalised, but they did improve significantly and thus were unfortunate to end up without a point.

There were three changes to the starting line-up from Saturday, Aaron Morgan's suspension meant a recall for Maz Bettache, while Dave Diedhiou came in for Sam Flegg and Lee O'Leary was restored at the expense of Courtney Harris - the latter two were among the substitutes.

A dramatic start saw Leon Smith shoot inches wide of the post with an angled effort inside the opening 30 seconds. At the other end, East Thurrock came even closer to a goal.

O'Leary's pass back to Joe Wright was horribly short and Sam Higgins seemed likely to reach the ball first. He didn’t thanks to Wright's perfectly timed sliding challenge which took the ball away a few centimetres from the Rocks' captain who was then sent tumbling by the goalkeeper's follow-through.

No one had a chance to appeal for a penalty because the ball went straight to Tom Wraight, whose carefully aimed curling chip seemed destined for the net until Ryan Wharton flung himself at the post and somehow deflected the ball back to the goalkeeper. Wharton lay on the ground clearly hurt, East Thurrock asked whether it was a backpass and Wright threw the ball out for a throw-in.

Wharton was only winded and was able to resume after a brief spell of treatment, but his heroic act was one of the most spectacular goal-line clearances you will ever see.

Hendon could not come to terms with the speed of East Thurrock, not only in getting the ball forward, but the way the ball came off the pitch and the Greens' performance was well short of the standards set by the management team. The Rocks tried their luck with a number of shots from distance but Wright was equal to all of those that were on target.

However, in the 15th minute, he was left helpless when a terrible mix-up between Luke Tingey and Wharton allowed Lewis Smith to burst onto the ball, without a defender near to him.

Wright came off his line, but Smith knocked the ball past him and into the net. The goal certainly gave East Thurrock a boost, but their finishing did not match their approach play and, gradually, Hendon started to find greens shirts with passes instead of wide open spaces or white shirts.

Nine minutes before half-time Sam Knott was caught out by a burst of pace from Leon Smith. His challenge sent the Hendon man crashing to earth just inside the penalty area. It seemed a certain free-kick, but the referee ruled the offence was in the penalty area.

A case could have been made that Knott was the last defender, but there was sufficient doubt as to whether it was an obvious goalscoring opportunity, so a yellow card was probably correct. Sam Murphy's penalty levellled the scores.

Hendon were much better after the goal and in the second half, even though the passing was still not great. They forced East Thurrock to do almost all of the defending without creating too many clear cut opportunities.

Leon Smith went close on a couple of occasions and Scott Shulton nearly set up him or Bettache, only for a defender's foot to deflect the ball away from the pair of them. Russell Short also worked himself into a good position, but his effort was off target.

East Thurrock, who had replaced Knott with Harry Honesty early in the second, forcing Wraight to drop into the left back role, then lost the influential Rickie Hayles from the middle of their defence. Hendon, however, could not capitalise on the reshuffled Rocks back-line.

O'Leary really should have won the game for Hendon in the 81st minute when he managed to lose his marker. A header on target would almost certainly have brought a goal, but his flicked effort drifted wide of the far post with Lucas Lidakevicius a mere spectator in the East Thurrock goal.

Hendon's changes saw Harris replace Shulton, and Kezie Ibe come on for Bettache, but the two-man strike force lasted only five minutes because, in the 80th minute, Tony Taggart replaced Smith. Ibe had a couple of half-chances, which had he been fully fit, he would probably have converted, but on both occasions defenders crowded him out.

Then, in the sixth minute of stoppage time, East Thurrock won the game. Lewis Smith ran towards the Hendon defence, dipped his should and suddenly got away from the three green shirts in his way.

It was still little more than half a chance, he was running across the edge of the 18-yard-box, but Smith then unleashed a howitzer of a drive which flew past Wright and nestled in the bottom corner of the net. There was still a minute of added time for Hendon to retrieve the situation, but the Rocks saw out time in great comfort.

Report by David Ballheimer

Hendon

1
Joe Wright
2
Dave Diedhiou
3
Oliver Sprague
4
Ryan Wharton
5
Luke Tingey
6
Russell Short
7
Sam Murphy
8
Lee O'Leary
9
Leon Smith
10
Scott Shulton
11
Mahrez Bettache
12
Courtney Harris
13
Sam Flegg
14
Tony Taggart
15
Kezie Ibe
16
Melvin Minter

Match Events

Lewis Smith
25''
36''
Sam Murphy
Harry Honesty replaced Sammy Knott
62''
69''
Courtney Harris replaced Scott Shulton
Tom Anderson replaced Rickie Hayles
69''
74''
Kezie Ibe replaced Mahrez Bettache
82''
Tony Taggart replaced Leon Smith
Lewis Smith
90''

East Thurrock United

1
Lucas Lidakevicius
2
Ryan Sammons
3
Sammy Knott
4
Ryan Scott
5
Rickie Hayles
6
Ben Wood
7
Kris Newby
8
Mitchell Gilbey
9
Sam Higgins
10
Lewis Smith
11
Tom Wraight
12
Harry Honesty
14
Tom Anderson
15
David Bryant
16
Matthew Ashwell