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Hendon picked up a well-deserved point on Monday evening from a chilly visit down the M40 to Beaconsfield Town in an entertaining affair that saw both sides committed to winning the match.
Joe White was restored to the Hendon starting line-up almost exactly a month after he broke down against Poole Town and within 7 minutes of the start of the game, he’d grabbed the opening goal. Sam Dreyer picked out his run, peeling off the shoulder of his marker, with a superb ball between centre-half and left-back and with Aymen Azaze coming off his line, White simply clipped the bouncing ball over the advancing Barnet loanee and watched on as it bounced into the net.
Gianni Crichlow, on his first start for the club since returning on dual-registration from Braintree Town, would prove a thorn in the side of Toby Little, the home left-back, and it was his touch that found Brooks just outside the penalty area only for the leading scorer’s effort to thunder off target.
Twice Crichlow had penalty shouts waved away, firstly when he got to the ball a fraction of a second before the sprawling Azaze and appeared to be upended before being sent sprawling by a shoulder barge from Jordan Aghatise just inside the penalty area only to be cautioned for simulation.
Slowly but surely the home side began to grow into the game and after Scott Donnelly saw his powerful effort headed behind by Christian Smith, the screw began to tighten. A ball from the right-hand side took a touch off a Hendon defender as it fizzed across the face of goal and from the corner, the ball was worked to Oliver McKoy who swept a vicious right footed curling effort against the crossbar with Fred Burbidge beaten.
The equaliser came less than a minute later as another Barnet loanee, Kaine Kennedy-Sinclair, cut in off the left flank, beat the challenge of Smith and then planted the ball beyond Burbidge from close range.
Kennedy-Sinclair went very close to a second as McKoy’s beautifully judged clipped through ball played in the winger, this time Burbidge stayed big to make a fine save with his feet before the home side took the lead in calamitous circumstances.
There was little danger in sight when Burbidge came out of his box to deal with an overhit ball. However, in attempting to clear the ball got caught under his feet and fell kindly for the lurking Nathan Minhas. Barely able to believe his good fortune, the Rams’ leading scorer needed no second invitation to simply pass the ball from 20-yards out into the gaping arms of the Hendon net.
Four minutes later, Hendon bounced back in style. Jayden Clarke, once again relishing his chance to play in midfield, strode forward across halfway leading a counter-attack and bursting through a Beaconsfield tackle. His pass into the path of Liam Brooks was perfectly weighted and the Hendon man needed no second invitation to work the ball onto his right foot and with little back-lift, swept the ball low into the bottom corner of the net to ensure parity at the break.
The second half was less open than the first with Hendon managing to display a greater level of control than they’d been able to before the break, however it also flowed a lot less with a number of niggly fouls conceded by both sides.
Crichlow did send a superb ball into the box that was palmed away by Azaze, only as far as Anis Nuur who appeared to have an open net, however the former Cray man was unable to sort out his feet before a red shirt appeared to clear the danger. At the other end Sam Dreyer twice made superb interventions to deny Beaconsfield a clear sight of goal, firstly producing a wonderful tackle inside the penalty area after Nathan Minhas had sprung the offside trap and moments later blocking a powerful strike from the edge of the penalty area.
There were two good openings, one of which fell to the home side when Minhas’ effort was rather scuffed but very nearly fell nicely for the lunging substitute Bajram Pashaj to turn home – the ball trickled just wide of the post. At the other end, Brooks again worked himself space for an effort at goal after out-pacing his marker and with his effort destined for the far corner of the net, Azaze produced a magnificent stop at full-stretch to preserve his side’s point.