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Hendon slipped to a fourth consecutive league defeat on Tuesday evening as they went down by the odd goal in five against their FA Cup conquerors, Hayes & Yeading United at the SkyEx Community Stadium.
Manager James Gray has found his options increasingly limited in recent weeks with a mounting injury list - Kameron English, Tom Hamblin, Ryan Hope and Charlie Smith would all have been likely starters - and with Connor Calcutt, Matty Harriott, Romario Jonas and Kraig McLeod-Noel (the latter on international duty with Grenada) also unavailable, 18-year olds Toby Byron and Obinna Ogbonna were handed their first starts for the club.
Hendon's big issue for much of the season has been failing to capitalise when on top and it was the case once again here as they were much the better side in the first period but only had a single goal to show for their dominance.
That came in the 19th minute when Francis Amartey seized on a defensive error by Liam McDevitt, managed to find space inside the penalty area and drilled his effort beyond Jack Smith and into the bottom corner of the net.
After that Amartey hit the inside of the post with an effort which rebounded across the goal-line and just about scooped away by a paw from the grounded Smith before Ogbonna had the ball in the net on the half hour mark. The Hendon debutant had used his hand instead of his head though, so the goal was ruled out and he was shown a yellow card by the eagle-eyed referee.
Amartey then hit the underside of the crossbar with another effort and once again the bounce of the ball favoured the hosts as it bounced down the wrong side of the goal-line and on 38 minutes the hosts seized upon that fortune when Omar Rowe lined up a shot from 20 yards that flew into the corner of Chris Grace's net. It may have taken a slight deflection on it's way in but the Hendon goalkeeper had absolutely no chance.
The Greens very nearly went into the break ahead when Amartey once again nipped in to intercept McDevitt's intended back header and as he nutmegged Smith, the ball brushed the goalkeeper's right heel which was enough to take it six inches the wrong side of the post and into the side netting.
Luca Valentine came off at the break with a knock, being replaced by Tom Nyama and it took just 3 minutes for the hosts to wrestle the initiative away from the Greens.
Hassan Jalloh, the evening's outstanding performer along with Rowe, created space inside the penalty area and hit a low shot that took a big deflection off a Hendon defender and beat the wrong-footed Grace.
As the Greens faded, the hosts took control yet didn't really test Grace unduly, Ed Cook and Toby Byron in particular showed up well in the Hendon back four, and any efforts from the hosts were comfortably off target.
With 14 minutes remaining and the game still in the balance, former Hendon striker Ogo Obi, who had come on a substitute, received the ball in the penalty area. As he turned away from goal he was tripped by the dangling leg of Tom Nyama and the referee awarded the spot kick immediately. Obi stepped up and sent Grace the wrong way to make it 3-1.
Nyama was immediately replaced by Scott McGleish who took his place alongside Amartey up front as the visitors looked to try and salvage something from the game.
With two minutes remaining Amartey, who earlier in the week extended his loan-stay from Slough for a second month, showed a remarkable turn of speed to out-pace four red shirted defenders and then once in the penalty area slipped the ball underneath Smith for his 6th goal in 6 Hendon games.
That led to a furious final few minutes as Hendon threw everything forward in search of an equaliser whilst the hosts did all they could to slow the game down. A number of long-throws came to nothing and a corner went begging as Smith, who had looked susceptible to the high ball all evening, was fouled under pressure from a Green shirt.
A frustrating evening was completed seconds later as the final whistle went and Hendon were left to contemplate their longest ever away league trip at the weekend when they travel to Truro.