Hendon could not take advantage of Aldershot's indiscipline - the Dons' was only slightly better - and conceded a 90th minute (of normal time) equaliser while the Shots had only 9 men on the field. Saturday's 1-1 draw at the Recreation Ground was probably the right result because neither team did enough attacking to merit taking maximum points.
Richard Wilmot and Ross Pickett returned to the starting line-up with David Adekola dropping to the substitutes' bench, alongside Bontcho Guentchev and Marvyn Watson. The line-up may have been the one Hendon have used to great attacking effect in the early part of the season, but the tactics were decidedly different. Stopping Aldershot from playing by good tackling and counter-attacking was the order of the day.
The result was a poor game. Aldershot prefer to use similar tactics but the home team seemed incapable of exerting much pressure on Hendon's well-organised defence. Neither Wilmot nor his opposite number, Andy Pape, managed to save a shot in 90 minutes, mainly because the two teams mustered a total of 2 on-target efforts.
Actually Aldershot managed two, and found the target with both of them. But the first, after 21 minutes, was ruled out because the scorer, Gary Abbott was correctly adjudged offside, much to his chagrin. He had already removed his shirt and was waving it triumphantly over his head when he spotted the assistant referee's flag raised.
Three minutes later, Hendon had the first of 3 great chances in 10 minutes. Paul Adolphe found himself in an excellent position. He worked a shooting chance, but bobbled the ball a couple of yards wide of Pape's left upright.
After 30 minutes, Phil Gridelet combined with Davis Haule and Adolphe to give Pickett a great scoring opportunity. In acres of space and with time to set himself, Pickett's shot beat Pape but went just wide.
Hendon finally broke the deadlock in the 34th minute. A long downfield ball found Haule matched with Owen Coll. The Hendon striker won the aerial battle and quickly turned past the defender to run in on goal. As Pape came off his line to narrow the angle, Haule fired a low shot past him and into the net. It was the first Ryman League goal Aldershot had conceded in 541 minutes.
Aldershot's response was a 25-yard drive from Richard Gell which flew just over Wilmot's bar. The noisy 2,241 crowd was beginning to exhibit frustration and this transferred itself to the players. Just before half-time, Wayne Andrews shoved Simon Clarke two-handedly into the perimeter fence. Referee Mr S Gagen (New Malden) showed him a yellow card.
At the start of the second half, Aldershot replaced Lee Protheroe and Lee Holsgrove with the experienced Simon Ullathorne and Colin Fielder. In the 50th minute, Clarke brought Andrews crashing to the ground and was deservedly cautioned for the foul. Andrews needed lengthy treatment before he was able to continue.
Stupidly, the striker went looking for revenge, achieving this aim in the 53rd minute with an equally crude challenge. Mr Gagen, in front of an irate group of home fans, showed steely nerve in producing both yellow and red cards. Andrews saw neither as he was already limping off the pitch. Clarke was able to resume after he had received treatment.
At this stage the midfield battle was certainly going Hendon's way. Jon Daly and Gridelet were probably game's outstanding players. Abbott was well marshalled by Gary Fitzgerald, Paul Towler and Warren Kelly, while Ullathorne got no change out of Iain Duncan, especially after he appeared to injure himself moments after Ollie Adedeji had replaced Jason Chewins toempty Aldershot's bench.
The game boiled over in the 78th minute. Towler was pulled down from behind by Mark Pye and retaliated in a manner totally out of keeping with his normal behaviour. The result was two swapped punches on the ground. Towler was sent off, while Pye was rather fortunate to receive only a yellow. It was later alleged that Towler's reaction was down to Pye grabbing him in a personal place.
Gridelet dropped back to bolster the defence, while Watson (for Adolphe) and Adekola (for Pickett) supplied fresh pairs of legs further up field. The two substitutes and Duncan were responsible for the next flashpoint. They did nothing wrong at all, except keeping the ball away from Aldershot. Skipper Mark Blake in a moment of temper and frustration ended Hendon's keep-ball with an appalling kick on Adekola, which brought out a third red card. Not a murmur of protest could be heard from the Shots' vocal fans.
In the 90th minute, Kelly was undone by a bouncing ball from a throw-in and, with Abbott sensing a half-chance behind him, the defender deliberately handled the ball. Mr Gagen produced yet another yellow card, but Aldershot exacted revenge in a perfect way. Fielder curled in the free-kick and Coll was unmarked as he nodded home a header.
In stoppage time, Fielder put himself in front of Haule to block the striker, who appeared to retaliate. Fielder fell to the ground clutching his face and Haule was cautioned. Almost immediately he was replaced by Guentchev, who came close to setting up an unlikely Hendon winner, but Matt Crossley's attempted clearance flew just over Pape's bar.
"I am gutted we conceded such a late equaliser," moaned manager Frank Murphy. "I really thought we could win the game," he added, although most Hendon fans would have gladly taken the point earned if it had been offered before kick-off.