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Match Report

Hendon
2
Merstham
2
Date:
Saturday 19 September 2015
Competition:
Isthmian League Premier Division
Attendance:
133
Venue:
Harrow Borough

Match Report

Hendon needed a late goal to gain a point against Merstham, who celebrated the final whistle like it was a big victory. The match featured a below average 18 fouls - one of them very bad - but 10 yellow cards, seven of which were shown to the Moatsiders.

Following the FA Cup exit a week earlier, Hendon rang the changes, with Mark Kirby, Sam Flegg and Lee O'Leary earning recalls at the expense of Ben Frempah, Ryan Wharton and Russell Short. The last-named was injured, but the other two were on the bench, although- along with Charlie Kuehn - they were not used.

The Greens dominated the first half in terms of territory, even though they continued to misfire. In the ninth minute, Leon Smith found himself in the clear with only goalkeeper Jack Howard to beat.

Howard was quickly off his line and did well to stick out a leg to deflect the ball away from danger. Unfortunately for Smith and Hendon, none of the match officials appeared to spot the last Merstham defender clatter into the striker's back after the ball had been struck.

Midway through the half, Andre da Costa wriggled his way past Stefan Cox and was about to burst towards the Merstham penalty area. He was scythed down by a cynical, late challenge from behind.

If the card which followed had been red, Cox could have had few complaints. As it was, Da Costa lasted only a few more minutes before he limped off and Aryan Tajbakhsh replaced him, denying Hendon their most mercurial attacking option.

The Greens continued to enjoy plenty of possession, especially down the flanks. Marauding full-backs Flegg and Ollie Sprague failed, however, to deliver enough in the way of quality crosses and Dexter Peters and Tutu Henriques were able to deal with most of them without too much difficulty.

Howard produced an excellent save to deny Tajbakhsh when he drilled a 20-yard shot that was arrowing towards the roof of the net. Then in the last minute of the first half, Hendon had a goal disallowed for offside.

A fine move down the left side ended with Aaron Morgan having a shooting opportunity. However, he had spotted Smith, unmarked at the far post, so the ball was played to him and he netted off Howard's legs. Hendon's celebrations were soon stilled as the assistant referee was standing with his flag raised.

Lewis Gonsalves came on for Reece Hall before the second half started and he slotted into the Merstham defence. It was a move which backfired 10 minutes into the period.

Smith attacked down the left and got the better of Gonsalves as the pair ran into the penalty area. Having got clear, Smith did not have a good angle for a shot, but he was tripped by the stretching substitute.

The referee immediately pointed to the penalty spot and called over Goncalves. The first card the defender saw was the red one and he said to the referee, "You're not going to send me off for that."

Gonsalves was relieved to see a yellow card before Morgan lined up the spot-kick. As he was about to take the spot-kick, the Merstham bench tried to bluff him by shouting at Howard, "You know which way the ball goes."

If the goalkeeper did have the information, he went for a double-bluff. He dived one way, Morgan's kick went the other, and Hendon were one up.

For the next 15 minutes, Merstham tried to find a way back into the game, but Melvin Minter had only save to make and it was very routine. Hendon had another penalty appeal turned down when Morgan twice was bear-hugged by Henriques as he tried to get clear of his marker.

With 20 minutes to go, the Moatsiders sent on Omar Folkes for Aaron Rhule. Less than 90 seconds later, a needless attempted tackle by Dave Diedhiou could well have earned him a second caution - he had seen yellow for a late tackle before half-time. It was clearly a last warning and it gave Merstham a free-kick just ouside the edge of the Greens' penalty area.

The defensive wall did its job, blocking the free kick, but the rest of Hendon's defence did not. They were transfixed, watching the ball loop across to the opposite of the penalty area, and no one reacted to the danger as Folkes ran in and knocked the ball into the net.

The reaction from the Merstham bench was very positive. "Let's go for the win from here," was the shout. And Hendon certainly did their part to assist that aim.

The Greens' confidence drained from them almost visibly. Although they forced a corner, the delivery was poor and it allowed Merstham to break away. The ball forward wasn't great, but Luke Tingey could not find Sprague when he intervened.

Tommy Hutchings nipped in to take the ball and he ran, unchallenged, at the Hendon goal. Minter was off his line quickly, but there were two men in support of Hutchings and almost no cover in green. When the ball was played to Tom Kavanagh, he rolled it into the unguarded net.

Two minutes later, Merstham should have made the game safe. For one of the very few times all afternoon, neither Kirby nor Tingey could deal with Hutchings, who turned and got behind the defence. He had only Minter to beat, but rushed his shot horribly and the ball went a good six yards wide.

Kezie Ibe was introduced at the expense of Diedhiou, giving Hendon a three-man attack as they searched for a way back into the game. They got it with five minutes of normal time remaining.

Smith played a short pass into Morgan's path. Morgan took a touch, waited for Howard to commit himself and then slipped the ball into the net.

As the game moved towards additional time - four goals, three substitutions and seven cautions should have meant at least five to seven minutes - Hendon had yet another penalty claim rejected. This time it was Ibe who was the man denied.

Chasing a through ball, Henriques did a good job - if an illegal one - in shepherding him away from the penalty area. Ibe was being pulled and pushed away from the ball, which was not in playing distance, and although the striker had his hands clenched together in front of his chest, the referee ruled he had been the offender.

Report by David Ballheimer

Hendon

1
Melvin Minter
2
Sam Flegg
3
Oliver Sprague
4
Luke Tingey
5
Mark Kirby
6
Dave Diedhiou
7
Mahrez Bettache
8
Lee O'Leary
9
Leon Smith
10
Aaron Morgan
11
Andre Da Costa
12
Kezie Ibe
13
Charlie Kuehn
14
Ben Frempah
15
Aryan Tajbakhsh
16
Ryan Wharton

Match Events

39''
Aryan Tajbakhsh replaced Andre Da Costa
Lewis Gonsalves replaced Reece Hall
46''
56''
Aaron Morgan
Jerald Aboagye replaced Simon Cooper
67''
Omar Folkes replaced Aaron Rhule
71''
Omar Folkes
71''
Tom Kavanagh
72''
81''
Kezie Ibe replaced Dave Diedhiou
85''
Aaron Morgan

Merstham

1
Jack Howard
2
Simon Cooper
3
Antone Douglas
4
Dexter Peters
5
Tutu Henriques
6
Tom Kavanagh
7
Stefan Cox
8
Fabio Saraiva
9
Tommy Hutchings
10
Reece Hall
11
Aaron Rhule
12
Kershaney Samuels
14
Jerald Aboagye
15
Lewis Gonsalves
16
Omar Folkes
17
Michael Abnett