Match Report

Burgess Hill Town
2-4
Hendon
J Brivio 2
N Muir 3, J Walker
Match details
Competition: Isthmian League Premier Division
Date: Saturday 03 February 2018
Attendance: 278

Hendon belatedly picked up their first league win of 2018 with a hard fought victory at Burgess Hill Town, a result that sent their hosts to the bottom of the division and into occupancy of the one and only relegation spot.

It was another open and thrilling game to add to the lexicon of Hendon matches - the last five matches have produced a staggering 33 goals - this was the first in six to consist of any from Hendon's top scorer Niko Muir.

There were two debutants in the Hendon line-up with German born Nick Hamann joining on dual-registration from Maidenhead United to replace Corey Addai in goal, and Harold Joseph signing on-loan from St. Albans City coming in to partner Rian Bray in the centre of defence meaning that Arthur Lee moved to left-back. There were also starts for Dave Diedhiou and Keagan Cole in place of Harly Wise and the now departed Joe White.

Although the pitch was heavy with incessant drizzle and rain throughout the day and had a few patches of mud, it certainly wasn't unplayable and both sides deserve credit for producing such an open and entertaining display of football.

Hendon settled the quicker of the two sides with Zak Joseph and Ashley Nathaniel-George working their respective full-backs hard, however they had to wait until the 11th minute to break the deadlock when a pass from Keagan Cole found Niko Muir with half a yard of space inside the penalty area. The centre forward took a touch and then sent a crisp low right-footed shot beyond James Shaw and into the bottom corner.

The visitors, taking plenty of confidence from the early goal began to play with real purpose - a free kick right on the edge of the penalty area after Muir was hauled down by Gary Elphick, flicked off the wall and into the side netting of Shaw's goal, and then Muir worked himself some space again before firing off a powerful effort which brought an excellent block from the goalkeeper to keep his side in things.

In the 23rd minute the home side equalised out of the blue - Conor Tighe got into the Hendon penalty area and although his powerful low shot brought a superb save from Hamman, Jack Brivio reacted quickest and slotted the ball into the empty net to bring the hosts level.

For the next quarter of an hour or so, the home side began to get on top - Aaron Smith-Johnson was a constant menace down the left-hand side with his pace and direct running - he fired off a shot that dipped just over the crossbar, and Hamman had to make another save from Steph Ngamvoulou at his near post to keep the two sides level.

With six minutes remaining in the first half, Hendon were awarded a penalty that looked quite soft to those behind the goal. Nathaniel-George went down under pressure from Ibrahim Forfana and the referee pointed to the spot. After a delay of 90 seconds or so whilst Shaw and others debated the merits of the official's decision making, Muir stepped up. His effort was fairly well struck, but Shaw guessed right and made a very good save. However, unfortunately for him, his block fell to the feet of the Hendon centre forward who needed no second invitation to lift the ball into the net and give the visitors a half-time advantage.

After the break, Hendon began with a determination to make the game safe. Casey Maclaren and Dave Diedhiou started to take a stranglehold (something with Maclaren literally felt in the first half in a challenge with Elphick) and Arthur Lee was excellent in snuffing out the threat from Tighe down the Burgess Hill right.

An errant flag from the assistant referee denied Lee a goal ten minutes after the restart - a decision which perplexed many Hendon players firstly because the ball had come off a home green shirt into Lee's path, and secondly because Lee himself was definitely onside. Although Maclaren was in an offside position, he made no attempt to play or interfere with the ball at all.

Undettered, the visitors did get the reward they were looking for when Cole, who really enjoyed himself playing just off of Muir, threaded a pass into the centre-forward and as he turned, planted a left footed shot that Shaw got half a hand to, but was unable to prevent the ball from skidding just inside the post and into the net for his fourth hat-trick of the campaign. As the successful scorer celebrated with the chairman behind the goal, Shaw was left to bemoan the slipshod defending that allowed 'such a quality player even a yard of space inside the penalty area'.

If anything, Hendon fans are even more nervous of defending a two goal lead than just the one and those nerves were frayed even more five minutes later when a superb run down the left beyond Sam Murphy saw the ball cut back and converted once again by Brivio at the near post to reduce the arrears.

There were 18 minutes of stormy waters for Hendon to navigate and by and large they did. Any shots that the Hillians did get off were wildly off target and there were a number of timely interceptions and interventions made my blue shirts. At the other end, they should have regained their two goal advantage as Muir got clear on goal and unselfishly knocked the ball beyond Shaw to give Joseph what looked like a tap in. As the Hendon number 9 slotted the ball towards the empty net, Ibrahim Diallo slid in from nowhere to make an unbelievable goal-saving challenge and keep the hosts' hopes alive.

In the final five minutes, after the official had left a multitude of sin go unpunished from both sides, Maclaren went into the book for a mistimed tackle and then a forceful Diedhiou tackle also saw the other midfielder cautioned. Although Diedhiou clearly won the ball, his studs were off the ground and could on another day have been punished with a red card.

As the game ticked into stoppage time, Hendon hearts were in their mouths as a free kick into the box looked to have been converted by a green shirt, however, the ball bounced agonisingly wide of the post. Within sixty seconds the points were finally sealed as Josh Walker dispossed James Richmond, ran into the penalty area and neatly turned Sam Fisk before slipping the ball underneath Shaw from an angle. It was a superbly taken solo goal, again adding to the collection of virtuoso Hendon strikes in recent weeks.

Report by John Rogers : Not to be reproduced without prior permission

Burgess Hill Town

Home Squad
Shirt Player Info
1 James Shaw  
2 Ibrahim Diallo  
3 Sam Fisk  
4 Stephane Ngamvoulou  
5 Gary Elphick  
6 James Richmond  
7 Che Krabbendam  
8 Jack Brivio  
9 Ibrahim Forfana  
10 Aaron Smith-Joseph  
11 Connor Tighe  
12 Pat Harding for 9 , 82
14 Lee Harding for 7 , 56
15 Joey Taylor for 5 , 71
16 Fintan Walsh  

Hendon

Away Squad
Shirt Player Info
1 Nick Hamann  
2 Sam Murphy  
3 Arthur Lee  
4 Dave Diedhiou  
5 Rian Bray  
6 Harold Joseph  
7 Ashley Nathaniel-George  
8 Casey Maclaren  
9 Zak Joseph  
10 Niko Muir  
11 Keagan Cole  
12 Harly Wise  
13 Oliver Sprague for 7 , 90
14 Luke Tingey for 9 , 80
15 Liam Gordon  
17 Josh Walker for 11 , 69