Two goals in the final ten minutes saw Hendon lose a 1-0 lead at Walton Casuals and the hosts snatch the points in an absorbing contest played out at the Elmbridge Sports Arena in the depths of South-West London. Pride in large parts of his side’s performance was tempered for Lee Allinson by another late dismissal which sees another key man miss three matches.
Looking to build on an excellent three points at Merthyr Town at the weekend, Allinson had the rare luxury of naming an unchanged squad for the second match running and it was his side, in their blue change strip, that made most of the early running.
WIlson Carvalho was the first to test the strength of Leighton Fanshawe’s hands as he twisted and turned his marker inside out before firing a powerful low strike that the goalkeeper did well to get down to and repel. Just before, Fanshawe had been quickly off his line and got just enough of a hand onto Hamza Semakula’s lob to keep it away from his net.
The opening goal came on 16 minutes and it was no surprise that it went Hendon’s way. A poor clearance out of defence only found Jayden Clarke on the Hendon right. He coolly slid the ball into the path of Liam Brooks who gathered it into his stride and spotting a gap at Fanshawe’s near post, fizzed a powerful low strike that was too hot for the goalkeeper to handle just inside said upright.
The tide began to turn midway through the first half as Zidan Akers sent a terrific left-wing cross across the face of the Hendon goal, Adam Liddle stretched to make contact but was unable to and the danger passed. Before play could restart with a throw-in, Christian Smith was cautioned for dissent after he felt he was shoved in the air but didn’t get the decision. Had Walton have scored there would doubtless have been plenty of remonstrations with the official.
Danny Rowe then went close, stretching to meet a right-wing cross into the box at the far-post, but was only able to loop his header over the bar before Fred Burbidge made a quite brilliant reaction save to maintain Hendon’s advantage, pawing the ball away with a long arm after initially going the wrong way after yet another ball into the box had caused moderate levels of anxiety in the Hendon defence.
The quality levels of the second half failed to match those seen in the first, however there was no quarter given by either side and the level of effort from both sides was sizeable after the break.
Wilson Carvalho found the target with a power strike from 25-yards that moved in the air and was expertly held by Fanshawe whilst at the other end Akers went painfully close to an equaliser with a lethal strike on the turn that left scorch marks upon the crossbar where it thundered away and over for a goal kick.
A double change for the Greens saw Joe White and George Devine replace the tireless Brooks and tiring Carvalho, the latter being cautioned for taking too long to leave the pitch, and Devine in particular, found plenty of action down the Hendon left but was unable to find a telling final ball.
Indeed, the final ball was all too often lacking for Hendon during the second half as they struggled to fashion a good opening whilst at the other end Walton’s direct style was about to pay handsome dividends.
There were ten minutes to play when a beautifully judged diagonal ball just eluded Sam Dreyer and fell nicely for Adam Liddle. The striker, who had enjoyed a running battle all evening with the two Hendon centre-halves, took the ball down beautifully with his first touch and then fired past the advancing Burbidge with his second to level the evening up at 1-1.
Rather than settling for a point apiece the two sides continued to look for the winner and it was the increasingly strong looking hosts that grabbed it just as the clock ticked into stoppage time. A more rudimentary long ball over the top found Gabriel Odunaike in behind the Hendon back four, once again the striker took it down well and planted his strike beyond the exposed Burbidge to ignite joyous celebrations amongst the home team.
Before the restart a fracas had broken out between the two benches and as order was restored, two already substituted players were shown a straight red card. Wilson Carvalho for Hendon and Shaun MacAuley for Walton.
In the few minutes of stoppage time Hendon did create a couple of opportunities to get a decent ball into the penalty area but as had been the case for large spells of the second half, the delivery was lacking and the hosts held on comfortably to leapfrog their opponents in the table.