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Hendon fell to three sucker punches delivered by a canny Billericay Town team who won 3-1 at LOOT Stadium on Tuesday night.
It is a well-known football saying that the worst times to concede goals are in the opening and closing minutes of a half and immediately after scoring. The Greens conceded a goal a couple of minutes after opening the scoring and one each a couple of minutes before and after half-time.
The opening 20 minutes had almost nothing to commend itself. Neither team came remotely close to creating a chance, although Hendon were at least competing better than they had done in the opening quarter on Saturday, something manager Dave Anderson had stressed before the game.
Then in the 25th minute, Hendon took the lead. Marvyn Watson received a fine crossfield pass from Simon Clarke. He took on Kevin Jordan and left him floundering in his wake, then tried to do the same to Chris Moore. The giant defender was nowhere near the ball so he cynically and deliberately kicked Watson on his trailing leg - he could not get closer.
Watson went tumbling inside the penalty area and received a spell of treatment where his momentum had taken him, although it should be stressed there was never a hint of this being a penalty kick. Referee Mr S Head decided that it was a foul, but as he went to lecture Moore, the defender rose up and towered over the ineffectual official, brow-beating into administering no more than a talking-to.
Simon CLARKE stepped up, curled the free-kick past the wall and was delighted to see Gavin King make a complete hash of effecting a save as the ball ended up in the net. It is the second consecutive season the wing/full-back has been Hendon's first goalscorer in the League and the 3rd time in 5 games he has notched against Billericay - this was his 16th goal in 299 appearances.
Two minutes later, Watson had another good chance, running at King. This time no defender could get close to him, but the goalkeeper did well to smother the shot. The ball was cleared quickly and after Hendon defenders had twice failed to clear, Kelechi OPARA struck a first-time shot off the inside of David Hook's post and into the net.
In the 36th minute, Mr Head showed himself unwilling to make himself unpopular with visiting defenders when he failed to award a penalty to Hendon. Once again Watson was involved. This time he just beat King to a loose ball, but the sprawling goalkeeper made a grab at the ball and knocked it a couple of yards beyond both players. Before Watson could get to the ball, King produced an excellent rugby tackle to bring him down.
On the stroke of half-time, Hook came to collect a right-wing corner from Billericay but, under pressure from Moore, could do little to get the ball away from danger. Instead Jeff WOOLSEY was on hand to sweep the ball home to give Billericay a lead they would never relinquish.
Two minutes after the break, Hook produced a breathtaking save to deny Amara Simba a goal, but while his defenders were admiring the save, Tommy MORGAN latched onto the loose ball and rifled it into the net, despite Hook's best effort to keep that one out too.
From then on, it was a matter of Hendon huffing and puffing without ever really looking like blowing down the Billericay fortress. All too often the passes attempted were over-ambitious and Blues defenders were always well placed to cut them out. Billericay wasted a number of good opportunities, while Hendon's best opening was a rasping 22-yard drive from substitute Pat Sappleton, but it flew just beyond the post with King well beaten.
"At 1-0 up we had a great chance to make it 2, but we didn't," said a disappointed Mr Anderson, "and to make things worse they went straight up to the other end and scored an equaliser."