Hendon were left fuming on Saturday afternoon as a succession of controversial decisions went against them at New Lodge as Billericay Town recorded a 2-0 victory. The most galling thing of all was that the Greens ended the match with just 9 men after Andy Iga and Jon Daly were shown red cards.
The three officials certainly did not come out of the game with much credit, the two dismissals by referee Mr Jon Beadle (Meopham) being on the say-so of his assistants, the official having failed to keep up with play on all too many occasions and he certainly looked to be intimidated.
It has to be said that Billericay certainly did not deserve to lose. The Blues were undoubtedly the best team Hendon have faced this season, though their style did not win friends. Very physical going into challenges, these players took on the properties of bone china when in possession of the ball. This strange transformation particularly affected central defenders Dave Culverhouse and Chris Moore. Most of the team would win gold medals for whingeing if that was an Olympic sport. However, it also needs to be stressed that three Hendon players were cautioned for bad fouls, while Billericay players saw yellow for dissent.
Hendon manager Frank Murphy reverted to his strongest line-up following the midweek cup-tie at Arlesey with Andy Iga replacing the unavailable Richard Wilmot. After 10 minutes, Jon Daly rocketed a header from Simon Clarke's free-kick into the Billericay net, but it was ruled out for offside, yet had Mr Beadle had insisted on the wall being back the full 10 yards, then Daly would not have been offside.
Clarke forced Gavin King into making an acrobatic save from another free-kick on the edge of the penalty area and Towler shot over, but Billericay created at least as many chances, Richard Dunwell mishitting one excellent opportunity and Iga making a point-blank save to deny Justin Gentle.
With almost the last kick of the first half, Billericay took the lead. A Blues player fell theatrically to the ground just outside the penalty area and won a free kick. The ball was curled in by Joe Baker and Paul LINGER - both players were in Leyton Orient's team beaten by Hendon in November 1997 - rifled home the chance. Linger has scored in every one of Billericay's home games this season.
Hendon opened the second half very brightly and a desperate scamble after 51 minutes should have seen the Greens net an equaliser. Gary Fitzgerald watched a header from a Clarke corner scrambled off the line, another shot was then blocked before Fitzgerald let fly from 8 yards. The ball cannoned off King's upper body as the 'keeper bravely threw himself in front of the shot.
David Adekola and Dale Binns replaced the struggling Ross Pickett and Paul Adolphe after 52 and 60 minutes, respectively, and the pair almost fashioned an equaliser in the 62nd minute. Adekola - who was serenaded onto the pitch by home fans, where he had been a favourite a couple of years ago - danced past Culverhouse and drew King towards him. Binns was in a better position, but Adekola knocked the ball a foot behind him and Billericay were able to clear.
The game turned in the 81st minute. Hendon made a mess of clearing the ball and it was knocked back towards Iga's penalty area. Linger chased the ball which was boucing towards Iga. The midfielder stretched to reach the ball, raising his boot high towards Iga's midriff and the goalkeeper, trying not to touch the ball outside the penalty area, moved his arm to avoid the studs and touched the ball.
According to Billericay fans in line with the action, the assistant referee, one leg swathed in bandage and strapping, was some yards behind the two players when the incident occurred. He limped into position before flagging for handball. The referee, out of position, took his assistant's advice and red-carded Iga. Clarke took over in goal and the first thing he did was to pick the ball out of the net as LINGER nodded home the resultant free-kick. Three mintues later, King produced another outstanding save to deny Daly a goal from another header.
In the last minute of normal time, Culverhouse dived in recklessly on Marvyn Watson, on for Phil Gridelet, but because Watson got up immediately, no action was taken although Iain Duncan previously had been cautioned for a foul that were no worse, the only difference being that the Billericay player had writhed on the ground in apparent agony. The only serious injury any Billericay player suffered was when Dean Parratt injured ankle ligaments landing awkwardly.
In stoppage time, Warren Kelly committed a bad foul and the spitefulness finally overflowed. Somehow, Daly - acting as a peacemaker - seemed to be spotted by the other referee's assistant, doing something, and when the dust settled, Mr Beadle produced a yellow card, Daly's second, again on his assistant's advice. Off he trotted, totally bemused.
"I went in to stop people pushing each other, and the assistant said I did something," he said afterwards. "I am sure it was a case of mistaken identity."
Hendon secretary Graham Etchell confirmed that he had approached Mr Beadle after the game and was assured that the official had not seen another player committing the offence Daly was cautioned for. "We will have to wait for the referee's report to see what Jon did," he said.