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Hendon produced a vastly-improved performance when they held Ryman League Premier Division leaders Hampton & Richmond Borough at Earlsmead on Saturday. It was an entertaining contest which rarely looked like one between teams at opposite ends of table.
A week after the awful performance at Metropolitan Police, Omar Vassell, Casey Maclaren, Ben Pattie and Tony Taggart came into the starting line-up at the expense of Luke Tingey, Mark Kirby, Adam Wallace and Sam Murphy. The first three of those replaced were on the bench, while Murphy's injury - picked up on Tuesday night - appears not to be quite as bad as first feared.
Hampton have enjoyed a fruitful spell and their confidence was obvious as they launched a couple of dangerous attacks. Former Hendon wide-man Jerome Federico had a good first half, giving Ollie Sprague lots to consider.
However, the final ball into the penalty area frequently did not match the approach play. And, when there was a good opening for Nicke Karamba, he failed to put the effort on target.
Hendon began to get into the game and Taggart began to ask serious questions of Michael Kamara. This had the added benefit of forcing Federico into a more defensive mode and Taggart was joined by Sprague in fruitful forays down the Hendon left.
In the 15th minute, a cross found an unmarked Kezie Ibe. He tried to direct his header inside the left upright, but put it the wrong side of the post, only to have his blushes for a terrible miss saved by an offside flag.
The next chance for the Greens led to the opening goal. Taggart was denied by a fine save from another former Hendon player, Joe McDonnell, who spent a couple of months on loan from Basingstoke Town a couple of seasons ago.
When the corner came into the box, the Beavers defence failed to deal with the danger. The ball fell to Dave Diedhiou, who slammed the ball into the bottom corner.
Within seconds of taking the lead, Hendon almost threw it away. A silly free-kick was conceded on the edge of their penalty area and Tom Beere's dead-ball strike seemed destined to go inside the post, until Joe Wright produced a magnificent fingertip save.
Hendon continued to give as good as they got and there was a feeling that Hampton were beginning to get a bit frustrated. Leading the way for Hendon was Maclaren, who had an outstanding game and his instant return to game pace speaks volumes for his dedication to solitary fitness training.
On the stroke of half-time Karamba had another great chance and, once more, failed to hit the target. The reaction of disappointment from almost all of his team-mates must have given a lift to the Hendon rearguard.
The job was only half done, and the lead lasted only a minute or two into the second half. Jamal Lowe cut in from the left and fired a shot. Wright seemed to have the ball covered, but he could not hold on and the ball ended up in the net.
Hendon's faithful feared the worst after the disappointing start to the second half, but the Greens were determined not break again, despite some concerted pressure from the visitors. Wright had one of his most assured games, catching a number of dangerous crosses and making two or three excellent saves.
Giant Hampton defender Moussa Diarra, who had scored twice in the match at The Beveree in the autumn, should have added another goal when he lost all markers at a corner. His header had plenty of power, but no accuracy and Hendon, breathing a collective sigh of relief, had a goal-kick.
It wasn't all one way traffic as Pattie and Dean Cracknell both couldn't take chances when they were presented to them, Kieran Murphy - the son of former Hendon assistant manager Ged Murphy, who also had a brief spell on loan with the Greens - making a key block on the latter, and McDonnell doing well to thwart the QPR loanee.
McDonnell did even better to keep out a shot from Wesley Fonguck at the expense of a corner. The set-piece didn't result in a clear attempt on goal and when the ball went out of play, it was the signal for Hendon to make two quick changes, Taggart and Pattie making way for Wallace and Carl McCluskey respectively.
Hendon then had an appeal for a penalty waved away. A goalmouth melee saw McDonnell fail to deal with a corner and as the goalkeeper tried to regather the ball and he might have bundled over a Hendon player. With so many bodies in the way, it was hard to be sure whether it was a foul or not, and the referee decided there was sufficient doubt that he would not award a spot-kick.
Hampton then had a penalty shout of their own but Russell Short's last-ditch challenge got the ball and not the rampaging forward. The Beavers sent on Charlie Moone, but the prolific Hampton marksman was, for once, unable to add to his tally of goals against the Greens.
But Hendon did have one escape when a shot from the left side beat Wright at his near post, but the ball cannoned off the upright and bounced away from danger.
In the final few minutes the game became very stretched and Hendon had the best of the late chances. The well-marshalled Hampton defence stopped three raids by stepping up to catch Ibe and Wallace offside, but the strikers could also point the finger of blame at the players delaying passes to them by a stride or two.
In stoppage time, Wallace did beat McDonnell with a shot and it seemed that Murphy had got to the ball after it had crossed the goalline. However, the assistant referee had his flag raised for offside so the clearance was needless.