Hendon had to overcome much adversity before downing Beaconsfield Town 2ÃƒÂ¢Ã‚Â€Ã‚Â“1 in a battle of the bottom two at a rain-soaked Silver Jubilee Park on Saturday. The victory lifted Hendon two places, importantly one spot above the drop zone.
New manager Lee Allinson brought in two players, one for a debut, the other for a hero's return, and both will look back on the game with great fondness. Dave Diedhiou, after leaving the Greens for St Albans City in summer 2018, was back on a dual registration basis, while Isaac Galliford came on a month's loan from Hemel Hempstead.
There were also wholesale changes from the team which had played so disappointingly at Farnborough, with Romario Jonas, Luke Tingey and Sam Corcoran all coming into the starting line-up. Those dropping out were Howard Hall, Kraig Noel-McLeod, Connor Calcutt, Reece Mitchell and Tre Charles, all of whom were named on the subs' bench.
Hendon started with great positivity and, in truth, should have been out of sight inside half an hour. Playing with purpose and directness Beaconsfield had little answer to the runs of Kam English and Galliford. More importantly, Diedhiou, Sergio Manesio and Corcoran shored up the heart of midfield, leaving the visitors chasing shadows.
English was denied by excellent saves from Myles Bowman in both the third and 14th minutes, Galliford was just wide with a strike after 16 minutes and Diedhiou twice had efforts cleared off the line.
In the 11th minute, Galliford had the ball in the net, having got the better of a defender. The assistant referee flagged for a foul against Galliford, but waved for no more fouls all afternoon.
It was not the only strange decision of the half either. Jonas was taking yards with a throw-in and was, correctly, told to move back. He didnÃƒÂ¢Ã‚Â€Ã‚Â™t, at which point - before the ball was thrown - the restart was awarded to Beaconsfield instead, begging the question, "how can it be a foul throw if the ball isnÃƒÂ¢Ã‚Â€Ã‚Â™t thrown?" Notably, in the second half, a Rams throw was taken 20 yards away from where the ball went out of play, without penalty.
The front three for Beaconsfield finally got forward enough for shots in the last 15 minutes of the period, but only Jon-Jo Bates - the son of former Hendon captain Jon-Barrie Bates who made a solitary appearance for the Greens in 2010 - forced Chris Grace into a save. Neither Anthony Mendy nor Charlie Losasso could turn clever approach play with an on-target shot.
In the 42nd minute, what might have been a turning point came a few yards inside the Beaconsfield half. English went for a loose ball with Mayo Balogun, who played 18 games for the Greens three seasons ago, and the players collided violently - a sign of commitment, but with neither aggression nor malice - and both went down holding their lower legs.
The referee's decision was instantaneous, and maybe too hasty. Once English, with a giant stud-sized hole in his sock, had got to his knees, he was shown a red card. Shocked and in pain, English limped up the touchline and the referee refused to restart play until the injured forward was up the tunnel.
Nothing of note happened in the minutes remaining before the interval, but the Greens were frustrated when, after a free-kick had been cleared for a corner, the referee called an end to the half before the kick could be taken.
Hendon didn't make a change to their team for the second half, but did take up a more defensive alignment, leaving Galliford a sole striker, well ahead of the two banks of four defenders. The Rams were quick to put the Greens defence under pressure but, in the main, Jonas, Corey Panter, Hamblin and Luke Tingey did well to repel the danger.
Bates forced an early save from Grace and Mendy fired just wide of the target from a good position. But Hendon did come close to an opening goal when Diedhiou was wayward with a shot from just outside the penalty area.
Ten minutes into the second half, Grace twice came to the GreensÃƒÂ¢Ã‚Â€Ã‚Â™ rescue. First, he made a tackle on the edge of the box to stop a Mendy run. Then, when the ball fell back to the striker, Grace made a good low save. MendyÃƒÂ¢Ã‚Â€Ã‚Â™s next act was a frustrated push on Tingey, who needed treatment after colliding with Grace and the forward was cautioned.
In the 65th minute, Hendon's worst fears were realised. Breaking from midfield the Rams were allowed to move into a dangerous position and it allowed LOSASSO to unleash a scuffed 20-yard drive.
It should not have been a problem for Grace, but a defenderÃƒÂ¢Ã‚Â€Ã‚Â™s boot deflected the ball and altered its bounce, leaving the goalkeeper scrambling vainly to reach the ball. It nestled in the bottom corner, leaving Hendon with an even bigger mountain to climb. The Greens' reaction was nothing but positive and their reward was almost instanteous.
They forced a free-kick on the left side, not far from the corner of the penalty area. Corcoran crossed the ball into the danger zone and Hamblin won the header, but not with an attempt at goal.
The ball bounced around in the middle of the 18-yard box before HAMBLIN took control, turned and shot the ball into the bottom corner for the equaliser. There was a minute of worry, however, as the referee had a long chat with his assistant. This was not to do with the goal but injudicious comments from Ryan Hope, who saw yellow for his verbal indiscretion.
With a man advantage, it was little surprise that the Rams still held the territorial and possession advantages, but they really didnÃƒÂ¢Ã‚Â€Ã‚Â™t turn them into serious pressure. Grace did make a couple of saves, but they were not difficult ones and other shots lacked accuracy.
With 17 minutes to go, Hendon made what would be their only change of the match, Calcutt taking over Corcoran. Beaconsfield made two changes, one of which was a third ex-Don, Wes Daly, coming on for skipper Reece Yorke ÃƒÂ¢Ã‚Â€Ã‚Â“ an attacking move with Daly a midfielder replacing a central defender.
This meant that Balogun moved into the middle of defence and it led indirectly to HendonÃƒÂ¢Ã‚Â€Ã‚Â™s winning goal after 82 minutes. A ball out of midfield invited Galliford to run towards goal with Balogun for company.
The defender reached the ball first and headed it back towards Bowman. The goalkeeper misjudged the bounce of the ball off the rain-soaked surface and it cannoned off his shoulder behind him. GALLIFORD hadnÃƒÂ¢Ã‚Â€Ã‚Â™t stopped running and he had the simplest of tasks of rolling the ball into the unguarded net from about three yards.
Unlike Hendon, Beaconsfield noticeably waned after conceding. There were a couple of half-chances for the Rams, but little to dismay the Greens, who had stiffened their defensive resolve.
If fact a couple of breaks involving Galliford and Calcutt had the visitors' defence looking noticeably uneasy. The final whistle was greeted with huge cheers from the Greens fans, who welcomed the three points as much as relishing the thought of a new dawn at Silver Jubilee Park.
New boss Allinson said, "It was a great three points and I am delighted to get the win. There was a desire about us today that wasnÃƒÂ¢Ã‚Â€Ã‚Â™t there on Wednesday.
After we went a goal behind, I felt we would get a chance but what I didnÃƒÂ¢Ã‚Â€Ã‚Â™t know is how we would recover from the goal. I knew we could cause them trouble from set pieces, from long throws and free-kicks, as we saw from the chances we created in the first half.
It was a great delivery from Sam (Corcoran) and the ball to Tom Hamblin and it was a centre-forwardÃƒÂ¢Ã‚Â€Ã‚Â™s finish from a centre-half. It gave us a lift and you have to ride your luck a bit when you are down to 10 men."
Allinson went on to praise three players in particular, "David Diedhiou, Isaac Galliford and Sam Corcoran all came in for us today and they put in a real shift for us."