Hendon's recent struggles in front of goal came back to haunt them on Monday night when Farnborough Town won 2-0 at LOOT Stadium. In the process the Hampshire club set a new Ryman League Premier Division record with their 16th straight win.
Iain Duncan made his first start in almost two months, while Davis Haule partnered Ross Pickett in attack, allowing Dale Binns to play in his more dangerous role, just behind the attack.
It took just 54 seconds for the new formation to discomfort Farnborough. A cross from Marvyn Watson was knocked out to Binns on the edge of the penalty area. His first-time snap shot beat Stuart MacKenzie but flew just a couple of feet wide of his far post. If Binns had struck the ball slightly less well, he would probably have scored.
The wind at Hendon's backs certainly was factor, but, in the 6th minute, Haule really should have done better when he muscled his way past Barry Laker to get a clear run on goal from Jason Soloman's pass. With only MacKenzie to beat, Haule scuffed his shot and the goalkeeper had an easy save, which would only have troubled him because he went down too early.
In the 12th minute, Haule did well to release Watson into the clear. MacKenzie was again the last line of defence, but once again the shot on goal simply lacked the power or direction to beat him. MacKenzie stood up to make himself big, and Watson lacked the confidence in the one-on-one.
He had Hendon's next good chance too, just before the half-hour mark. This time he made better contact with his shot, which flew off target. Warren Kelly tested MacKenzie with a rasping drive from 40 yards after 33 minutes, but MacKenzie moved smartly to his right to keep out this effort.
It signalled a bit of a turning point, because from here on, the best chances fell to Farnborough. Lenny Piper went close as the League leaders broke quickly from a quick counter-attack. Richard Wilmot had to be quick off his line as a downfield ball almost held up enough for former Hendon striker Gary Crawshaw to capitalise.
The opening goal arrived just before half-time. A rash-looking challenge 30 yards from Hendon's goal was not considered a foul by referee Mr J Ross (Chingford), but his assistant had a different angle and opinion, so Mr Ross awarded a free-kick. It was curled in and CRAWSHAW reacted quickest to the loose ball to knock it into the net.
Hendon fans feared for the worst after the break because, having seen Farnborough grow noticeably in confidence after scoring 9 days earlier in the reverse fixture at Aimita Stadium, the League leaders now had the strong wind in their favour and a goal advantage too.
It took 123 seconds for these fears to be realised as Lenny PIPER scored from close range as the Hendon defence failed to clear the danger. The heavy pitch, however, was the real winner and while Wilmot did make two fine saves and Piper somehow contrived to miss from almost point-blank range, the game degenerated into a battle of attrition.
Mr Ross was determined to keep his cards in his pocket, which meant that challenges flew in. "I believe in man-management," Mr Ross admitted after the game. His only caution was for dissent by a Farnborough player.
There was, however, nothing particularly untoward about one challenge involving Ian Baird, the former Leeds United and Southampton striker. Unfortunately, as he stretched for the ball he collided with a Hendon player and was stretchered off with what seemed to be a broken leg. It did appear to be a genuinely accidental collision.
"We are struggling to score," admitted manager Frank Murphy. "Farnborough are a very strong side, but we could have been 4-0 up."