|Competition:||Isthmian League Premier Division|
|Date:||Tuesday 05 March 2013|
Hendon's unbeaten run came to a disappointing end at the hands of neighbours and landlords-in-waiting Harrow Borough at Vale Farm on Tuesday night. The Greens were as manager Gary McCann admitted, "authors of our own downfall," but they could point to a major first-half injustice as a turning point.
Darren Currie, Dave Diedhiou and Sean Sonner came into the starting line-up, with Elliott Brathwaite, Isaiah Rankin and Belal Aite-Ouakrim making way.
Harrow, desperate to atone for their dire performance in their defeat at Thurrock on Saturday, started the game very quickly â they kept up their high intensity for the whole game and unsettled Hendon throughout. In the sixth minute, they forced Berkley Laurencin into a routine save.
Three minutes later, Hendon twice failed to take the opportunity to deal with a Harrow attack and when the ball was crossed into the penalty area, no one was close to Saheed Sankoh. The striker had a free header and made no mistake to give Borough the lead.
It took more than 20 minutes for Hendon to put any sort of move together and Ross Fitzsimons desperate pleas to his to defenders to stop crosses coming into his penalty area became evident when a teaser from Currie was completely missed by the goalkeeper. Ola Williams dealt with the danger but it gave Hendon hope.
In the 38th minute, Hendon should have been level. A clever through ball from Dean Cracknell released Lee Angol, who got clear of James Regis. Although Angol was able get into position for a shot, his angle was quite acute.
His drive was very powerful and beat Fitzsimons but was missing the far post. Diedhiou anticipated the situation perfectly and slid the ball into the net from two yards out. But Diedhoiu's celebrations were stilled by the assistant referee, whose flag was raised for offside, only after he had put the ball in the net.
Two minutes into the second half, Harrow doubled their advantage. A free-kick from the right wing was floated into the penalty area. Players from both teams went for the ball and everyone missed it.
When the ball landed it bounced higher than expected and was headed into the net by Danny Leech from just a couple of yards out. It was one of those crosses that makes a goalkeeper look bad because it should have been dealt with, but he couldn't reach the ball in the middle of the box and couldn't get to it at the far post.
Six minutes later, Hendon got back into the game when Jack Connors controlled a ball in the Harrow penalty area. There was hesitation between Williams and Fitzsimons and it allowed Connors to wriggle free.
Connors chances of taking a shot at goal were ended by Williams' trip. After a moment's hesitation, the referee correctly awarded a penalty and was although if Connors had gone a stride further, he would have had an almost empty net into which to shoot, there was sufficient doubt for it not to be an obvious goalscoring opportunity.
That said, the reaction of the Harrow players surrounding the referee and berating his assistant was unedifying. Currie took responsibility for the spot-kick and was not going to be inconvenienced by the delaying tactics, smashing the ball into opposite corner to which Fitzsimons dived.
There was more than enough time for Hendon to get back into the match, if they had been good enough, but they weren't. The Greens were certainly better than they had been in the first half, but there was distinct lack of a cutting edge and the passing was not as crisp as it had been in previous weeks.
Howard Hall and Scott Cousins weren't able to get forward as much as they would have liked, which denied Hendon their outlet passes and Angol and Sonner were shackled by the Harrow defence.
Another disappointing aspect of the night was the wasting of set pieces. James Fisher marshalled the troops inside the penalty area, but not once was a green-shirted player close enough to the ball to have a chance of equalising.
Neither goalkeeper, apart from the goals, had anything more than routine balls to deal with and that continued until the 75th minute, when Laurencin caught a looping header just under the angle of post and crossbar. Even so, it was not a particularly difficult save to make.
Three minutes later, Cracknell, already cautioned, committed another foul and many referees would have had no hesitation in pulling out another yellow card. The offence probably merited such a sanction, but the official gave Cracknell a very clear "final warning lecture". It was heeded by McCann in the Hendon dugout, and he immediately substituted him, along with Sonner, Carl McCluskey and Belal Aite-Ouakrim coming on.
In the 84th minute, Fitzsimons made an almost identical save to the one effected by Laurencin a few minutes earlier, so at least both goalkeepers could claim to have made a save. A couple of minutes later, just before Jack Bennett replaced Connors, Sam Flegg burst out of midfield and fired a drive which went narrowly the wrong side of the post from a Hendon perspective.
The Greens had one last chance to grab a point. It came in the fourth minute of stoppage time when Angol fired a 25-yard shot which was arrowing towards the top corner until Fitzsimons produced an acrobatic save to tip the ball against the top of the bar and away to safety.
McCann said, "We never gave ourselves a chance to grind out a result, and that was very disappointing. The goals we conceded were very poor on our part. It was always going to be a struggle coming back from two goals down.
"We could make all sorts of excuses but, as I said to the players after the game, we are not going use them. We should have been good enough to get a result tonight."
|12||Jack Bennett||for 8 , 86|
|14||Carl McCluskey||for 7 , 75|
|17||Belal Aite-Ouakrim||for 9 , 75|
|12||James Burgess||for 2 , 90|
|16||Paul Olima||for 9 , 75|