Hendon's Jeckyll and Hyde form continued when they were unable to raise themselves against St Albans City on Wednesday night. The 1-0 defeat was as surprising as it was deserved, if only because St Albans had lost 3 consecutive games and their squad was full of youth and reserve team players.
The Greens' schedule made it just about certain that the starting line-up would change significantly from game to game and so it was on Wednesday, with Simon Clarke, Jon Daly, Chris Sparks, Paul Adolphe and Davis Haule coming in for Iain Duncan, Phil Gridelet, RenÃƒÂ© Street, Bontcho Guentchev and Otis Roberts.
In the first minute, a long ball down the middle caused the St Albans defence some inconvenience and Dale Binns and David Adekola found themselves both chasing the loose ball. Binns was better position and fired a first time shot that smacked against the outside of the post. He had more time than he thought, but the youngster's instinctive strikes from acute angles have come off so often that he could be forgiven for trying another one here.
Little did Hendon realise that this was to be the Dons' best chance of the whole match. St Albans may not have been able to field the big-name players they usually select, but the youngsters more than matched their illustrious counterparts with their enthusiasm and willingness to run and battle for every loose ball.
This paid dividends in the 14th minute, when they scored the only goal. Teenager Steve Morison, who has scored dozens of goals in youth football this season, made a dangerous break down the right wing. His low cross found Danny Davis unmarked at the far post. Before Marvyn Watson could get across to cover, DAVIS shot low into the bottom corner, just beyond Richard Wilmot's dive.
The heavy bumpy pitch certainly made fast, flowing football an impossibility, but both teams seemed happy to keep the ball in midfield and chances were few and far between at both ends. In the 35th minute, Jason Soloman tried a 35-yarder that Richard Hurst caught above his head and the power of the shot was evident by the way the keeper stepped back after making the catch. He never looked like losing control of the ball, however.
Guentchev came on for the disappointing Adekola, whose partnership with Haule suggested they had met in the dressing just before kick-off. But he could do nothing to lift Hendon. Jon Daly tried his luck from long range, but his effort failed to trouble Hurst.
In the 5 minutes, Saints' defence showed its nervousness as the ball ricocheted around. It almost fell to Guentchev, but the ball took a crazy bounce and was hacked away to safety.
"The boys looked very tired tonight," admitted disappointed manager Frank Murphy. "A lot of the boys were carrying knocks, but we did not play well today. It is time to bring in the youngsters."