Hendon rebounded from an awful first half to take a share of the points with a 1-1 draw against Maidenhead United at LOOT Stadium on Saturday afternoon. With most of the teams around Hendon also getting draws it means that the Greens remain in 10th place in the Ryman League Premier Division table, level on points with St Albans, but behind on goal difference.
The only changes to the Hendon team following Tuesday's victory over Grays Athletic were on the bench, with fit-again Martin Randall and Paul Yates replacing Leon Woodruffe and James Burgess.
Attacking with the wind at their backs in the opening half, the first chance fell Hendon's way. In the 6th minute, a fine piece of skill took Eugene Ofori past a couple of defenders and he fired a swerving drive that seemed destined to go just inside the far post until Richard Barnard produced a fingertip tip save to push the ball away for a corner.
It was not a hint of what was to come. Instead it was Maidenhead who dominated. Attacking at pace down the flanks, especially their left, Mark Burgess, Simon Clarke, Steve Butler and Mark Cooper were at full stretch. In the 20th minute, Adrian Allen lobbed the ball over David Hook, but the ball came off the crossbar and bounced just too far away from him to knock home the rebound.
The opening goal arrived 7 minutes later. Obinna Ulasi went down the left wing and his cross was knocked home by an unmarked Lee CHANNELL. Five minutes later, the striker was inches away from converting a similar cross at the near post. It nearly didn't matter because the ball missed the far post by a matter of inches.
In the last couple of minutes of the half, Paul Towler went across to cover Rob Saunders but pulled up lame with what looked like a muscle strain. Nothing came of the Maidenhead attack, but Towler limped off, to be replaced by Yates.
A moment of farce followed. Barnard had kicked the ball out for a throw-in to allow Towler to receive treatment, but Yates was slow to enter the field and only did so after Hendon had returned the ball to the Magpies' goalkeeper. With the ball still live, referee Eric Mackrell (Hants), recorded the substitution although Yates really should have been cauitioned for technically entering the game without permission.
The Hendon management team left the players with no illusions that their second half performance had to be better. And, to be fair them, the players heeded the ear-bashing. With Yates playing wider on the right side of midfield, it gave Jon-Barrie Bates and Steve Forbes more space to operate and Hendon dominated the second half more than Maidenhead had been on top in the opening period.
Through balls which had blown directly to Barnard or out for goal kicks now held up in the wind and the Maidenhead defence looked much more uneasy being made to turn and chase rather than thurn and watch. Crosses also became more problematic with the ball held up in the wind.
Randall replaced Forbes in the 57th minute, but the result was that Crace dropped back to right midfield with Yates moving across to join Bates in the centre. Maybe Byron Bubb would have been a better option because Hendon have looked at their most dangerous when he and Dale Binns operated on the flanks.
Hendon should have had a penalty in the 65th minute when Orlando Jeffrey, on the wrong side, of a couple of Hendon attackers, barged into the back of them. However, neither Mr Mackrell nor his assistant, saw the incident.
Bubb was introduced in the 75th minute, for Ofori, and had an immediate effect. In the 78th minute, neat one-two with Randall set him up with a good chance, but Barnard was quickly off his line and made a good block.
Two minutes later, Hendon had their equaliser. A ball out of defence found Crace, attacking down the middle. He sprinted past three defenders and when Barnard came off his line, CRACE slipped the ball between the goalkeepers legs and into the net.
Neither team came particularly close to snatching a winner in the final 10 or so minutes but, in truth, neither team particularly deserved it.
"I am delighted with the result," admitted Mr Anderson, "because the first half was the worst we have played this year. We could have been 4-0 down at half-time, but we dug ourselves out of a hole in the second half."