Hendon had a lousy week in the build-up to Saturday's trip to Concord Rangers when three key members of the squad dropped out through illness or injury. Matchday was no better as another was injured in the warm-up, one more limped off injured in the first half-hour, a player saw red for a moment or two of madness and the game was lost.
The 2-0 defeat at The Aspect Arena, Thames Road, saw Hendon drop out of the Ryman League Premier Division playoff places, down to sixth in the table and the three teams above them, Lowestoft Town (seven points clear), Bury Town (four) and Cray Wanderers (two) all have a game in hand. In addition, Lewes, Canvey Island and Kingstonian are all within four points of the Greens, in seventh, eighth and nine places.
James Fisher, who has been a linchpin at heart of the Hendon defence in recent weeks, picked up an injury in training, and both Jamie Busby and Grey Ngoyi dropped out with illness. Their places were taken by Michael Peacock, Michael Lewis and Jerome Federico.
Then, in the warm-up, Casey Maclaren felt a twinge in his knee. He was replaced by his brother Kevin, who moved up from a substitute's role, with Junior Lewis taking over on the bench.
Before he kick-off, Concord made a presentation to their centre-half Steve King upon reaching an appearance landmark. It was not a happy occasion, because he limped off after a quarter of an hour and Reece Harris replaced him, causing the Beachboys to shuffle their formation. Harris would play a big part in the Concord victory, and the team's overall enthusiasm and hustle on a difficult surface certainly upset the Greens.
But it was Hendon who had created the first opening, a 10th-minute shot from Federico which required sprawling save from Nicky Eyre. However, if the shot had beaten the goalkeeper, it would have gone down in the gaffe column.
In the 27th minute, the man King had been marking, Elliott Charles, went down. After a few seconds of treatment, he was helped off the pitch and Isaiah Rankin took over from him.
Five minutes later, things got worse for the Greens. The three closest Hendon players to a throw-in all stopped, believing it to be a foul throw, but Concord's didn't and Harris got free down the left wing.
When the ball was crossed in low from close to the corner flag, Peacock, Rikki Banks and Anthony Stokes all went for the ball. STOKES got the decisive touch and the ball trickled just inside the far post.
Hendon came close to an immediate response. A teasing right-wing cross from Federico just eluded Rankin and Michael Lewis, coming in beyond the far post, couldn't turn the ball into the net at Nicky Eyre's right post.
The rest of he first half was dominated by the Beachboys, but there were few clear-cut openings. Banks did make a couple of important interventions, but Ryan Wharton and Peacock generally got the better of Harry Elmes and Mitch Hahn.
However, the danger coming from Concord down the flanks, especially from Harris down Hendon's right, limited the assistance James Parker and Scott Cousins could give their wide men Federico and Michael Lewis. And, without the aerial threat of Charles, crosses had to be pinpoint; generally, they were not.
Seven minutes before the interval, a free-kick just outside Concord penalty area offered more hope for Hendon. Darren Currie and Elliott Godfrey stood over the ball and the former's strike beat the wall but not Eyre.
Hendon started the second half very brightly and they thought they had equalised in the 57th minute. Good passing between Cousins and Currie gave the latter the chance to deliver a cross which was met by Rankin, who headed the ball into the net.
The referee, however, had spotted the Hendon man pushing Ben Bowditch and he disallowed the goal, awarding Concord a free-kick instead.
Three minutes later, all the good work of the previous 15 minutes had been undone. Lee White made a sliding challenge on Michael Lewis, causing the Hendon player to go down.
Lewis felt it had been a foul, but the referee was happy with the challenge. As White attempted to make space to clear the ball downfield, Lewis lunged in.
This time there was no doubt about the foul; and the only question was whether it merited a red or yellow card. That was rendered moot, moments later, when Lewis nodded his head into an angry Concord player, who immediately went down clutching his face.
Once the red card had been shown to Lewis, Hendon were forced to take more risks. But Concord were careless when Elmes led with arm into the face of Peacock. As the arm and/or elbow was not swinging, Elmes was shown a yellow card.
Peacock was soon replaced by Carl McCluskey as Hendon went to a three-man defence and, within five minutes, the Greens had the penalty. A quick counter-attack, started by Kurt Robinson and continued by Harris, saw Hendon stretched at the back.
Harris, in acres of space, was able to steady himself before delivering a low cross, which was turned into the net by the unmarked STOKES to complete his double.
With 10 minutes to go, James Archer took from Kevin Maclaren, causing another Hendon reshuffle. But Concord were comfortable and confident that the points were theirs and both teams played out the final few minutes without looking likely to change the scoreline.
"I am very disappointed we didn't react well to the adversity we suffered, losing three players in the week and another in the warm-up. We decided to go with a different formation, but we couldn't get going. We also have to be cuter."
"I have no complaints about the sending off. It came at a time when we were on top and looking like getting back into the match.
"We have got two massive home matches coming up and after the results on Saturday, we have got to pick up maximum points to get back on track."