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Hendon stretched their unbeaten run to eight matches coming from behind to draw 2-2 with a Canvey Island side that came to Earlsmead firmly entrenched in mid-table.
The Greens line-up showed two changes from the XI that had progressed to the final of the London Senior Cup at Redbridge on Tuesday night with Omar Vassell and Olly Sprague returning to the starting line-up in place of the injured Casey Maclaren and Carl McCluskey, who dropped to the bench. Luke Tingey moved to centre-half, yet another central defensive partnership this season and Tony Taggart returned to his left sided midfield berth.
The first twenty minutes produced plenty in the way of full-blooded desire and effort from both sides but absolutely no hint of a goalscoring opening at either end as everyone tried to get to grips with a difficult playing surface.
Indeed, the first sniff of a chance resulted in the opening goal for the home side. Tony Taggart swung a free kick half a dozen yards inside the right hand touchline into the heart of the Canvey penalty area. Shirts of both colours tried, and largely failed, to attack the delivery. The ball bounced around and although Conor Gough tried to claim, there were too many bodies in front of him and it was left to Dave Diedhiou to swing a boot at the ball and send it high into the net.
The Greens went on to have far more of the ball than their visitors and got themselves into a number of good areas to create chances. Taggart and Brandon Adams tested Jake Pitty and Ashley Dumas, whilst Keagan Cole on his full league debut once again showed great care in possession and used the ball with intelligence. However, the Canvey back four, marshalled superbly by the experienced Richard Halle, stood up strongly to the test.
It wasn't until the stroke of half time where following an unspoken referendum amongst Canvey Island's players saw them apply concerted pressure and create three gilt edged opportunities inside 90 seconds.
Firstly, the ball was sloppily given away by the Hendon midfield and pounced upon by the alert Harrison Chatting. He drifted off the left-wing and sent a lovely through ball into the path of Jay Curran, who had come off the right flank. Curran ran in at goal at an angle and as he got his effort away was met by the advancing Joe Wright who produced an outstanding block to send the ball behind for a corner.
Wright was winded for his bravery and required a minute or two to get his breath back before the corner could be taken. When it did come in, it caused panic stations this time amongst the Hendon defenders. No-one cleared the ball and Tony Stokes stabbed it goalwards only to see his effort rebound off the base of the post. The follow up from Halle saw Wright make another brave intervention before the ball found its way into the net. However, the referee's whistle just before had rendered the goal illegal, with a free kick going Hendon's way.
If those let-offs were to serve as warnings, they went unheeded as a ball inside Luke Tingey found Martin Tuohy in space down the right flank. Tuohy's cross found Akurang in front of goal. The experienced front man's first touch forced him to face away from the target, but his second was quite outstanding as he hooked a radical overhead kick beyond Wright and into the net.
The first half drama wasn't finished. The Greens went straight down to the other end and Ibe fed the ball to Cole. The 16 year old had a clear sight of goal and shot low and powerfully. It was Gough's turn this time to make an excellent save and Cole's follow up was also blocked at full stretch, this time by Dumas.
Following the eventual arrival of the half time whistle, Lawrence Yiga had his name taken by the referee for something he said on his way off the pitch.
Any hopes of a continuation of the excitement immediately before half time during the second half was swiftly extinguished as once again defences got on top. This time though, it was the Gulls that provided most of the attacking thrust and threat whilst Hendon had to be content with striking on the counter attack particularly through the pace of Adams.
The Greens weren't helped by collecting two additions to their lengthy injury list. Firstly Oliver Sprague, who had been a doubt before kick off went off on the hour mark and he was followed seven minutes later by Finbarr Robins. Shortly after that Omar Vassell pulled up sharply with what looked like a muscle strain. However, after a few minutes of limping heavily he was ok to finish the game.
Stokes, Taylor Tombides and Marlon Agyakwa, with a lovely curled effort, all put efforts off target to a lesser or greater degree before the game once again sprung into life late in the half.
This time it was the visitors that struck first. Agyakwa fed the ball inside from the right flank to Akurang just inside the penalty area. The former Barnet and Dagenham man worked himself some space, allowing the ball to run across his body before hitting a sweet powerful strike left footed high beyond Wright into the top corner of the net. It was another classy finish from the Canvey number 9 who was the game's class act.
It looked as though Hendon were beaten at this point, and before Christmas they would have been. However, the 2016 vintage have shown themselves to be made of sterner stuff and so it proved again. Within two minutes of going behind, Keagan Cole was released down the Hendon right. He reached the by-line and had the presence of mind - and touch - to pick out Kezie Ibe at the far post with a low cut-back. The quality of the pass took out two or three defenders, and Gough. Ibe took a touch to settle himself and shot. It was stopped on the line, illegally, by Yiga.
The referee pointed without hesitation to the penalty spot and the inevitable red card duly followed for Yiga. Brandon Adams showed confidence in picking the ball up and as much in sending Gough one way and the ball the other into the bottom corner of the net.
The remaining eight minutes saw both sides go for the win. Ibe was denied by a super Gough double save when given a glimpse of goal - it was only ever a half chance for the Hendon man though due to the pressure he was under from defenders. At the other end, a low drive from Ross Johnson following a forty yard run was well gathered by Wright to his right, and despite greater Canvey possession, the Hendon back four remained firm to collect the point that was both the least, and the most that either side deserved.