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Hendon may have made it nine games without defeat, but their players officials and supporters all felt that the 1â€“1 draw with Brentwood on Easter Saturday was a loss. The reason for this is that the Essex club equalised 10 seconds before the end of the last of five additional minutes, from a corner conceded because of a bad bounce and blown goalwards by the strong wind.
There were three changes to the team which snatched a point against Canvey Island two weeks earlier, with Sam Flegg replacing Omar Vassell, Carl McCluskey coming in for Finbarr Robins, and Maz Bettache taking over from Brandon Adams. Casey Maclaren had recovered from his knock, but was now laid low by a virus.
The match was dominated by the conditions: a rock-hard pitch and strong wind made close control difficult and made passing harder. Unsurprisingly, Brentwood desperate for wins and Hendon determined to pick up enough points to breathe easily, were more concerned about not conceding than they were about scoring.
Chances were at a premium at both ends and the finishing the first half lacked a clinical edge. That said, Brentwood very nearly took the lead midway through the first half when a short pass behind the defence released Alex Teniola.
He had only Joe Wright to beat, but the goalkeeper was quickly off his line to narrow the angle. Teniola scooped the ball over Wright, but as it dipped towards the goal, Flegg made a superb goalline clearance.
Four minutes before half-time, Kezie Ibe released McCluskey, who had a clear run at goal with only Ollie Bowles in front of him and no defender close enough to make a tackle that didn't risk a foul, possible penalty and near-certain red card. McCluskey steadied himself but was undone by a bad bounce which resulted in a scuffed shot which Bowles still did well to push away.
Many fans felt the game had goalless stalemate written all over it, but neither defence looked solid enough for that to be likely and so it proved. Before the goals arrived, however, Hendon twice contrived to blow great scoring opportunities.
The first of these was a scramble which saw Bowles made a great save from Ibe, Ryan O'Raw throw himself in front of a drive from McCluskey and then, Dave Diedhiou put too much power into a shot which cannoned off a post and bounced away to safety.
The next chance saw Tony Taggart fire into the side netting from an acute angle, but the options inside the penalty area were rather limited with Ibe closely marked and others arriving too late to be viable alternatives.
Midway through the half, Sam Murphy replaced Maz Bettache. Four minutes later, Hendon took the lead, but he had little to do with it. The move was down the left flank where Taggart and Ollie Sprague linked well.
Taggart invited a challenge from a covering defender, but as he stepped clear, the defender brought him crashing down. There was barely a word of protest from the defence as the referee pointed to the penalty spot.
Murphy, a prolific scorer from the spot last season, but whose campaign this time around has been at best stop-start, deferred to his captain Ibe. Although Bowles guessed correctly, Ibe's strike was clean, clinical and too far away from the goalkeeper for him to make a save.
Ben Pattie replaced Ibe a couple of minutes later and soon set up McCluskey for another chance. This time the shot was hit well, but the save from Bowles was outstanding.
In the 85th minute, just after Kieran Warren had taken over from Taggart, McCluskey arrived late in the penalty area and hit a first-time shot. Somehow, Bowles clawed away this effort, too, much to the frustration of the Hendon man who, on another day would have left with a matchball.
It proved to be a crucial moment in the game. There had been a fair amount of dawdling, not helped by the ever-strengthening wind, and a couple of injuries, so the advertised five additional minutes was not unreasonable.
Four and a half minutes of these additional ones had been played when a ball was played into the Hendon penalty area. Just as a couple of Brentwood players had discovered in the first half, that part of the penalty area was very uneven, and Flegg in attempting to hack the ball deep downfield, found the ball bouncing off his chest and out for a corner.
The ball was curled into the danger area, and then, with Wright claiming he had been obstructed in his attempts to reach the ball, the wind took over.
Instead of being a relatively comfortable headed clearance for Diedhiou - it would almost certainly have been the final action of the game - the ball died on him and his desperate attempt to keep it from crossing the goalline resulted in him being credited with a thoroughly unfortunate own goal.
There was barely time for the resumption when the final whistle blew and Brentwood, whose goalkeeper Bowles deserved nothing less than a point, were celebrating an unexpected escape from another defeat.