Covid-19: Please be aware that all fixtures are currently behind closed doors unless otherwise advised.
Hendon survived a huge last-minute scare to leave the 3G surface of the Xcel Sports Hub home of Walton Casuals with a point that their second-half showing barely deserved. That said, they had done more than enough in the first half, when the wind was at their backs, to have been comfortably ahead.
Kieron Forbes and Liam Brooks both available after the long midweek trip they came into the side, allowing Joe Howe and Luca Allinson to drop to the bench. Also named as a substitute was recently-signed Alfie Bonfield, like his father a goalkeeper, and he became yet another father-son pairing to represent the club.
Less than 60 hours after some of the team had returned home from Taunton Town it was resassuring to see a quick start and it nearly resulted in a goal. A defensive slip allowed Shaun Lucien the chance to set up Joe White and the striker confidently knocked the ball past Denzel Gerrar, only to see the ball strike the foot of the post.
In the eighth minute, former Hendon man Cole Brown was put through on goal. Jonathan North was quickly off his line and he got his angles correct as he pushed aside Brownâ€™s shot, the ball going for a corner.
From the corner, the ball was played to Ryan George, who tried his luck with a rising drive. Once again North was well-placed to make the save.
Both teams then had half-chances, but Gerrar and North either made the necessary saves or watched the ball miss the target. It seemed certain that goals would come, but the only question was at which end would the first one come.
The answer came in the 30th minute, and it was in the goal Hendon were attacking. Percy Kiangebeni fired a powerful drive which Gerrar saved, but could not hold. Fastest to react was WHITE, who beat Jerome Beckles to the ball and lifted it into the net from inside the six-yard box.
Two minutes later, Kiangebeni beat Gerrar with another shot. This time, however, the ball curled just over the crossbar.
Shortly afterwards, Hendon had a problem when Eddie Oshodi injured his ankle in a challenge and he limped away. After treatment, he was able to continue, but looked distinctly lame.
Even with his impairment, Oshodi still went up for a corner and he won the header too, but the ball didnâ€™t bounce favourably for the Greens. As Hendon took control of the game, White, Brooks and Solomon Sambou all had half-chances, but they couldnâ€™t turn them into goals.
Less than two minutes into the second half, Walton came close to an equaliser. A through ball saw Kyen Nicholas burst through on goal. He shot the ball past North and watched, as White had in the first couple of minutes of the first half, the ball strike a post and bounce in the defending teamâ€™s favour.
Just before the hour mark, Manolis Gagonis picked up a foot injury and was quickly replaced by Bradley Keetch, 17 on the Stagsâ€™ team-sheet but wearing 18. He had an immediate impact firing a shot which a sprawling North saved at the foot of a post.
Play swung to the other end and White was sent clear on goal. Gerrar was quickly off his line and he thwarted the goal-hungry striker.
In the 65th minute, out of nothing, Walton were level. Charlie Fox kicked a long ball downfield. Aided by the wind it blew over Forbes and Oshodi and fell to the feet of Jerson Dos Santos. North came off his line, but DOS SANTOS knocked the ball past him into the net.
Four minutes later, the Hendon defence was beaten again, but Nicholas could not turn in a tap-in from three yards, appearing to stand on the ball. He had another chance in the 71st minute, and this time a combination of Oshodi and North completed an amazing block.
Luca Allinson was introduced at the expense of Kiangebeni with a quarter of an hour to go. His first act was to curl in a corner which Luke Tingey headed inches over the crossbar with Gerrar beaten.
Lucien came out of a robust challenge limping and continued to be severely affected. He was taken off in the 84th minute, with Tyrique Clarke replacing him.
Walton were looking the likelier winners, though one good Hendon move involving Brooks, Sambou, Luke Perry and Allinson. It sputtered and died as Fox got in a block on White to stop him turning.
Tyrone Lewthwaite and Parish Muirhead came on for the Stags replacing Brown and Nicholas, respectively, and they were involved in the dramatic denouement. The game had just moved into stoppage time when Keetch fired a 25-yard shot.
North couldnâ€™t hold the effort and it fell behind him towards the goal-line. He dived back and, under pressure from Lewthwaite, tried to stop the ball crossing the line. Fans behind the goal were convinced the attempt had been in vain, but the assistant referee did not have the time to get into position to be certain, so play continued.
The ball went out wide, beyond the left post, where Dos Santos stretched to reach it. Simeon Olarerin tried to make a tackle, but was beaten by the striker, who then rolled the ball into the middle of the six-yard box, where Muirhead was waiting, unchallenged to roll the ball into the net.
However, the assistant referee had now got to the goal-line and saw the whole of the ball cross the line before Dos Santos reached it. There was a moment of confusion as to whether he was signalling a goal, offside or a corner, and it was the latter.
Of greater concern was North, who lay prone inside the goal area. He received significant treatment, before being helped off the pitch, giving a minute of nerves for debutant Bonfield.
The corner came to nothing and the ball was cleared downfield. Moments later, the final whistle went. It should be said, that however lucky Hendon might have been, there was no huge complaint from the home team at the assistant refereeâ€™s decision.
Speaking on the club website, manager Lee Allinson said, "It was probably it was one point gained. At the start, I felt they had the better more clear-cut chances, but I thought once we had got to grips with them, we came to life, got the goal and had two are three chances.
"I have never known an injury crisis quite like this. Tommy Smith and Tommy Brewer are both out and Eddie Oshodi, Shaun Lucien and Jonathan North all picked up knocks today. It is just one of those things we have to put up with.
"We might have to bring in one or to two just to strengthen us the rest of the way. Teams around us have got a lot to do but I donâ€™t want to get dragged into the relegation fight.
"We have to keep being positive and pushing on. No damage has been done to us today and that is a big a positive. If you think of where we are today and where we were â€“ we have come away with a draw from a club which was a long, long way above when we came to the club.
"I am pleased we came away with a point. But. could we have been better? Yes."