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Hendon produced one of their poorest halves of the season as they conceded twice before the break to boost Needham Market's hopes of avoiding relegation with a well-deserved victory over the struggling Greens at Earlsmead on Saturday.
There were two changes to the starting line-up, Dave Diedhiou's replacement by Goldy Capela enforced by his suspension and Leon Smith replacing Kezie Ibe. Coming onto the bench, but not used, was Max McCann. The other subs were Ibe, Sam Flegg, Andre Da Costa and goalkeeper Melvin Minter.
Hendon made a good start, but were soon pegged back by the Marketmen, who look a different team from the one outplayed by the Greens in Suffolk on a balmy August afternoon. Both teams struggled to deal with a rain-sodden pitch, the top of which was very slippery, but the surface was sound.
The first incident of note was the game's only caution, in the ninth minute, when Michael Brothers went through on Joe Wright and caught him as the Hendon goalkeeper came quickly off his line. The goalkeeper was slow to get up, but did so without treatment.
Indicative of the Hendon defensive discomfort came when Wright threw the ball short to Luke Tingey. He passed the ball towards Omar Vassell, who took two steps towards the ball and saw Sam Murphy in the vicinity, so stopped.
Murphy, however, was off and running in the hope of getting a pass. Instead Adam Mills latched onto the loose ball and ran towards the Hendon penalty area. His cross was poor and the Greens breathed a big sigh of relief.
Brothers should have been to give the Marketmen the lead in the 19th minute when Luke Ingram did well to get beyond Oliver Sprague. Although Ingram stumbled in avoiding the challenge, he kept his feet, got to the byeline from where his cross picked out Brothers six yards out.
There was no defender close to the striker as he struck the ball, but he lifted it off the top of the crossbar. It was a big escape for the Greens and a blow to the Marketmen.
It mattered little to Needham Market, however, as they took the lead three minutes later. A corner from Callum Harrison picked out Adam Mills and the midfielder was unchallenged as he headed the ball into the net.
Hendon tried to hit back quickly. The best effort from the response was a low shot from Dean Cracknell, but Danny Gay was equal to it, pushing the ball aside for a corner - which came to nothing.
The Greens struggled defensively to cope with Ingram and Brothers, both of whom were constant thorns in their side. Ingram linked well with Brown, whose cross was headed wide by Jay Davies.
In the 42nd minute, another fine run and cross from Ingram found an undefended part of the Hendon penalty area. Wright came off his line to deal with but slipped as he dived to reach the ball and made poor contact with the ball.
For once, the Hendon defence got lucky, because no Needham Market forward was close. Even when Tingey and Sprague both slipped, there was no challenge forthcoming, so the ball was eventually cleared.
Less than a minute later, Hendon didn't defend well enough and paid the penalty. A pile driver by Jay Davies from 25 yards beat Wright all ends up.
The ball crashed off the underside of the crossbar and bounced back into play without crossing the goalline. Fastest to react to the loose ball was Ingram and he stroked it into the net.
Hendon came into the game more in the early part of the second half and, four minutes into the period, it took a brave goalline clearance by a Market defender to keep the score at 2-0.
For all their attacking, the final ball was not remotely good enough, and Needham's defence, Brown, Darryl Coakley, Oliver Fenn and Keiran Morphew, were in comfortable control.
At least defensively, Hendon looked sounder. Sprague and Vassell did much better against Ingram and Mills, while Davies and Brothers got little change out of Mark Kirby and Tingey.
Russell Short and Cracknell saw plenty of the ball in midfield, but Aaron Morgan and Goldy Capela were, all too often, too far away from Leon Smith to form an effective attacking force.
That said, Gay did make two excellent saves in quick succession to deny Smith. The Greens also had two loud shouts for penalties - both for handball - but the ball struck defenders outside of the referee's line of sight and on the wrong side of the pitch for his assistant to have a clear view either.
Hendon left until well inside the final 20 minutes before making their changes. Ibe and Da Costa replaced Capela and Cracknell, respectively while, a few minutes later, Flegg took over from Sprague. The two Marketmen changes saw Brothers make way for Sam Newson and Jordan Patrick came on for Davies as the game moved into stoppage time.
Flegg's introduction saw Hendon go to a three-man defence, with Vassell moving into midfield. Ibe then shot inches wide of Gay's right post when a goal would have made for a very tense final few minutes.
Hendon then went to an old 2Ã¢Â€Â“3Ã¢Â€Â“5 formation with Smith, Ibe, Da Costa, Morgan and Kirby up front, with Short, Murphy and Vassell behind them. The bodies may have been there, in and around the Marketmen's penalty area, but the ball didn't get to them often enough.
And, over-committed to attack, Hendon nearly conceded a third goal when a shot from Joe Whight deflected off Newson's body. But Wright did very well to make a sprawling low save, having already committed himself to going the other way.