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Hendon continued to show their horrible inconsistency when they conceded a stoppage-time winner to Merstham at Moatside Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Moatsiders thus climbed above the Greens, who slipped to 18th in the Ryman League Premier Division, albeit 10 points clear of the bottom four.
There were four changes to the Hendon starting line-up. As well as the suspended Mark Kirby, Hendon were without full-back Ollie Sprague, a victim of food poisoning, Russell Short and Andre Da Costa. In their places were Hassan Sulaiman. Luke Tingey and new-dual registration signing (from Egham) Mason Welch-Turner.
The fourth change saw the return, after more than two years away, of Dean Cracknell, seeing his first action of the season following a couple of campaigns with St Neots Town. None of the back four in the win over VCD a week earlier was in the same position in this game, Dave Diedhiou moving into midfield and Sam Flegg to centre-back.
Both teams went into this game desperately needing a win to pull away from the relegation zone and this made for a very cagey contest. The first chance went Hendon's way, inside the first two minutes with a free-kick a few yards outside the penalty area.
Sam Murphy and Cracknell stood over the kick and Murphy took it. The shot was both a little too high and just wide of the far post and the ball struck the top of the goal support.
Although the Greens enjoyed the bulk of possession, when Merstham attacked, they looked dangerous. Sulaiman produced a copybook tackle to stop Fabio Saraiva, who had broken into the penalty area.
In the 19th minute Hendon had huge escape. An attack down the Moatsiders left flank saw the ball played into the middle. The first effort hit a post, the next two were cleared off or near the line, another hit a post before the ball was scrambled away - but only after a third goalline clearance.
Cracknell then had a shooting opportunity, the like of which he had translated into spectacular goals for Hendon in his previous spell. This time, his obvious ring rust was clear to see as his scuffed shot bounced didnâ€™t trouble Yannick Mackiese.
Acting captain Diedhiou also tried his luck with a long-range shot, but he, too, was wayward. Neither Aaron Morgan nor Leon Smith got much change out of Tutu Henriques or Dexter Peter, while for a large of the first half, Maz Bettache and Murphy seemed to operating in tandem down the same flank.
Just before half-time, Joe Wright pulled off a good save from a long-range effort, while Makisie did have to bend down to stop a shot from the edge of the Merstham box, but it was as routine a save as could be imagined.
For the first 20 minutes of the second half, Hendon set the tempo and were clearly on top, but without creating many clear-cut openings. Bettache did have a shooting opportunity from an acute angle, but the ball travelled across the six-yard box, leaving fans unsure if it had been a shot or cross.
Merstham's most dangerous attacker was Charlie Penny, on loan from Dulwich Hamlet and he twice forced Wright into saves and then planted a header wide. This last chance was actually a bit selfish because a team-mate was better positioned and had an angle to put the header on target.
Cracknell, Smith and Bettache were replaced by Goldy Capela, Kezie Ibe and Da Costa, respectively, as Hendon looked for a winning combination, while Merstham countered with their three changes â€“ and all six came between the 63rd and 76th minutes.
Makisie - who early in the second half had the embarrassment of being told his car was causing an obstruction (cue for some desperate shouting to someone to go into the dressing room, get his keys and move the offending vehicle) - then made a smart save by his near post from a Morgan shot. It looked, however, as if the ball would, at best from a Hendon perspective, have hit the outside of the post.
The Greens, after the changes were rather unbalanced, with five attacking players - DaCosta, Murphy, Ibe, Capela and Morgan - Diedhiou in midfield, and the four starting defenders - Sulaiman, Tingey, Flegg and Welch-Turner. Tingey produced a superb tackle to stop a quick counter-attack just outside the penalty area. Like Sulaiman's intervention in the first-half the timing had to be perfect.
Just after it was announced there would be three minutes of added time, Hendon's worst nightmares were realised. Conceding needless free-kicks on the edge of their own penalty area has been a frequent issue and this one was certainly in that category - a defender leaning over an attacker facing away from goal.
The wall was built with great care and did its job and the ball ended up in the middle of the 18-yard box. No red shirts reacted quickly enough, but three in yellow did. The race to the ball was won by Penny and he slammed the ball into the net.
There was time to restart and for Hendon to launch one final, desperate attack. It came to nothing and Merstham celebrations started when the whistle blew a few seconds later.