Top Field when they came back to equalise from both 2-0 and 3-2 down. Again the Dons were grateful to the cool head and penalty-taking skills of Warren Kelly to escape.
Although Hendon remain undefeated after 3 games, it must be a concern to manager Frank Murphy that the defence has looked so suspect, gifting both Heybridge and Hitchin goals. That being said, the entertainment these two teams provided was so good that no football fan could complain about the result.
With Ross Pickett passing a fitness test it meant that for a third consecutive game, Hendon named the same 11 starters and 3 substitutes, even if shirts numbers 8-15 were worn by different players. It has been many years since the Greens have been able to start a season with such a settled line-up.
This continuity was in evidence in the early going on a beautiful pitch made a little treacherous by the morning's rain which continued in the first half. Davis Haule headed over the bar with a free header from 8 yards and Simon Clarke, Iain Duncan and Pickett all shot over from good positions.
Haule almost opened the scoring after 11 minutes with an outstanding piece of skill. Retrieving a through ball near to the goal-line on the edge of the penalty area, Haule was faced by two defenders. He knocked the ball between them and ran around the flat-footed pair, before unleashing a powerful low shot which Darren Bonfield did well to push around the post.
Duncan was also denied by an acrobatic tip-over from the former Wealdstone stopper. After the opening 15 minutes, however, it was far from one-way traffic. Jeran Meah tried a snapshot from 20 yards which Andy Iga gathered low by his near post. Iga then blocked efforts from Adam Parker, Shaun Marshall and Gary Dixon as Hendon's defence looked as uncomfortable as Hitchin's.
After 42 minutes, following Iga's fine save to deny Dixon, Hendon fell behind. The corner was swung in and Iga came to claim it. He caught the ball with both hands high off the ground, but stumbled on landing and fumbled the ball. DIXON quickly accepted the chance, lashing the loose ball into the Hendon net.
The pace of the second half was as quick as the first, although the rain had eased if not stopped. Hendon's back line remained ill at ease. Duncan and Clarke made repeated forays down the flanks, often bringing Gary Fitzgerald and Paul Towler into the action. When moves broke down, Hitchin found themselves with men over as they counter-attacked.
After 50 minutes, Meah broke down the left wing, crossed low where Iga appeared to miss the ball as an unmarked Parker charged in. The ball reached DIXON, who also had no defender close to him as he turned the ball into the unguarded net. Dixon should have completed his hat-trick a minute later, however, he somehow contrived to lift the ball over the bar from 4 yards as it ricocheted off the woodwork following a magnificent strike by Parker.
The next 10 minutes saw two more Hitchin efforts bounce off the goalframe, although the first effort, from Parker, should have resulted in a goal. Desperate measures were needed by Hendon and Mr Murphy replaced Paul Adolphe with Dale Binns after 58 minutes.
Within four minutes Hendon had a lifeline. Hitchin struggled to clear a cross from Duncan and the ball went high in the air on the edge of the penalty area. Haule headed it forwards but it was blocked by Ian Scott, who leapt with his arm outraised. Referee Mr M Robinson had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot.
Scott Cretton tried to put Kelly off by standing between him and the ball before walking slowly outside the penalty area. Although Bonfield got a hand to the ball, KELLY's spot-kick was struck too firmly to be kept out.
In the 70th minute, a fine flowing move brought Hendon level. It started down the right flank, was knocked across the penalty area and BINNS was waiting unmarked just beyond the far post. He controlled the ball well and struck a fine low drive across Bonfield which flew into the goal just inside the post.
Now it was Hitchin's turn to rock as Phil Gridelet and Jon Daly took over the midfield. But the Canaries had the good fortune to find mishit clearances and the odd poor punch from Bonfield going to yellow shirts and not blue ones.
Four minutes after Bontcho Guentchev had replaced Pickett, Hendon gifted Hitchin a third goal. A midfield pass to Daly was way too short and Hitchin quickly took advantage of Hendon's over-eager desire to attack. One defender went to cover the raid down the right side, but there were none near Dixon or PARKER who whipped the cross which followed into the net as Iga came out to narrow the angle.
Hitchin's joy lasted two minutes. An overhit cross should not have been too much trouble for the Canaries but as Simon Clarke attempted to turn past Carl Williams and chase the loose ball, Williams forced him to the ground. It was as needless as it was clumsy and Mr Robinson again awarded a penalty. Tim Allpress tried to plead a case, but Williams knew he was guilty, holding his head in his hands. KELLY again did the honours, sending Bonfield the wrong way.
"We showed good spirit in coming back twice, but we gave them their goals," admitted a frustrated Murphy. "But we are playing some great football and we are still unbeaten."