Hendon suffered another disheartening defeat on Saturday afternoon, going down 2–0 against Weston-Super-Mare at Silver Jubilee Park. Maybe unfortunate to be behind at half-time, Hendon’s disappointingly lacklustre second half performance proved the result was right.
New goalkeeper Rhys Forster, on a dual registration deal from Hampton & Richmond Borough, made his debut at the expense of Fred Burbidge. Other changes saw Kyron Richards, Keiron Forbes and Shaun Lucien come into the team, with Sam Dreyer, Anis Nuur and Joe White all dropping to the bench, where they were joined Leone Gravata and Sam Corcoran.
For a second consecutive Saturday, the Greens made a poor start and were quickly trailing. Jordan Bastin was involved twice, first crossing from the right wing. The ball fell to Dayle Grubb, whose shot was well saved by the outstretched leg of Forster.
When the ball came down, Prince Henry missed a header but Bastin, who had continued his run, drilled the ball goalwards. Tommy Brewer flung himself in front of the shot and the ball cannoned off his hand onto the ground.
The Hendon skipper certainly didn’t deliberately handle the ball and, given the angle of his body, his arm could not have been considered in an unnatural position, but he admitted in a twitter message that the referee may have been kind in not showing him a red card. A penalty kick, however, was inevitable, and GRUBB coolly sent Forster the wrong way.
Hendon were knocked back by the early goal, but remained defensively solid enough not to be put under much pressure. Going forward, Gianni Crichlow got little change out of Scott Laird, and Shaun Lucien fared little better on the opposite flank, with Kieran Thomas assisted by Bastin, keeping him quiet.
A lovely passage of play between Lucien and Liam Brooks nearly brought an equaliser. The winger broke forward, played a one-two with Brooks and then fired a shot which was well saved by Max Harris.
The Greens took control in the last ten minutes of the first half. In the 37th minute, a foul 10 yards outside the D of the penalty area gave Christian Smith the chance to strike a free-kick. His effort beat the defensive wall but went inches the wrong side of the left upright with Harris not close to getting across to the ball.
Jayden Clarke, playing deeper in midfield, was the next to try his luck. Breaking down the middle, he took advantage of no defender approaching him to shoot goalwards, but Harris pushed his shot away.
Then, just before the interval, Lucien drilled a ball which Harris batted down and Hamza Semakula was inches away from pouncing on the loose ball before the goalkeeper could regather.
Before the start of the second half, Weston-Super-Mare made their first change, Marlon Jackson coming on for Henry, who had got little change out of Brewer and Smith. The substitute would soon make a big impact.
But first, Hendon’s best chance of the game came two minutes into the second half. A rare moment of hesitation in the Seagulls defence gave Brooks a shooting chance. For once, the striker’s attempt was not a clean one and the ball dribbled wide of the gaping target.
Thirty seconds later, the ball was at the other end and Nic McCootie had an excellent chance, but he fired wastefully over the crossbar with only Forster to beat.
It didn’t matter because only a matter of seconds after that, Weston-Super-Mare had their second goal. Once again, Bastin was the provider, cutting in from the right win, past Richards.
He slipped the ball back into the path of the late-arriving JACKSON. The substitute unfussily rolled the ball past Forster and into the net.
A few minutes later, Forster appeared to injure himself. He continued on bravely but was not able to kick the ball with the authority he had in the first half and, maybe, was fortunate that the Seagulls didn’t put him under more pressure.
In fact, they did not put a single effort on target or even try their luck from long range. What they did do expertly was deny Hendon space and force the Greens to play multiple passes just to cross the half-way line.
Lucien seemed to be the most likely player to get Hendon back into the game and, in the 55th minute, he forced a good low save from Harris at his near post. Brewer won the header from the corner but it was a long way off target.
With an hour gone, White came on for Lucien as Hendon went to a two-man attack, but James Dodd, Sam Avery and Nathaniel Williams provided a solid rearguard which Hendon could not breach.
Late in the game, Gravata and Nuur took over from Crichlow and Brooks, respectively, but they were unable to make a breakthrough. The Seagulls, meanwhile, were more than comfortable keeping Hendon at arm’s length and launching dangerous-looking counter-attacks.