Hendon's 5-game winning run came to an end at the Recreation Ground on Saturday afternoon when Aldershot Town recorded an undeserved 2-1 victory. That is not to say that the 3 points should have gone to the Greens; a draw would have been the right result because neither team really did enough to win.
The only change to Hendon's team following Thursday's win against St Albans was between the posts, David Hook reclaiming the No. 1 shirt from Gary McCann.
In the first half, the most remarkable thing was that almost nothing of note happened. Both teams looked tired and jaded, having played 210 minutes of football in the previous 5 days. The hard pitch, bouncy ball and strong wind made ball control difficult.
Gareth Howells came off his line to collect an overhit Hendon free kick, lost it in the sun, was bamboozled by a high bounce, slipped, but still had time to deal with the danger.
With the wind at their backs Aldershot were guilty of over-hitting passes, much to the frustration of new manager Terry Brown. At least the football the Shots played was measured and players weren't looking for wars.
Their only chance of the half came in the 38th minute when Stafford Browne rose to meet a cross from Mark Bentley, but put his free header over the crossbar from 10 yards out.
Hendon had to make a change at half-time, Simon Clarke replacing Micky Woolner, a move which forced Mark Burgess to switch to the right side. Against the pacy Chris Allen, he showed fine commitment in keeping him fairly quiet.
Hook had already made a fine save to deny Bentley before Browne opened the scoring in the 58th minute, Hendon feeling rather agrieved at the decision of Mr S Chittenden (St Albans) before the goal. Paul Towler jumped for a ball in midfield and fell awkwardly in a completely fair challenge with Bentley. Mr Chittenden played on until susbtitute Ricci Crace - on for the out-of-sorts Eugene Ofori - was adjudged offside 20 yards downfield.
After treatment, Towler was ordered from the field before play could restart. However, not only did Mr Chittenden allow the kick to be taken from where Towler lay injured, he also waited for 2 passes to be made before motioning for the midfielder to return. It allowed BROWNE enough space to work an opening and his fine drive gave Hook no chance as it flew into the bottom corner.
For the next 15 minutes, Aldershot were completely on top. Hendon made their last change, bringing on Leon Woodruffe (for Martin Randall) in a bid to get something out of the game, but it looked to be a vain move.
Suddenly, in the 73rd minute, the game changed. A needlessly conceded corner was curled in by Clarke and it caused panic in the Aldershot box. The second attempt at clearing the danger saw the ball knocked out to Dale BINNS, who returned it with interest. His shot fizzed past Howells into the bottom corner.
Jon-Barrie Bates and Lee Holsgrove earned yellow cards in the 77th minute, although there seemed little in it as Holsgrove left his feet to tackle Bates and their legs got entangled. Maybe the referee rushed in to caution them on the basis of their reputations, but there had been nothing in the game to suggest malice.
From the free-kick, 45 yards out, Clarke almost gave Hendon the lead. It blew goalwards on the wind, Steve Butler went to head the ball but made no contact, Howells anticipated Butler's contact and was completely wrong-footed as it came to him. His save should have been routine, but it ended up looking quite spectacular.
In the 83rd minute, Hendon should have had a penalty as Binns sprinted down the left wing. His cross seemed destined for Crace to side-foot home, but a slight push on him by Ryan Kirby was enough to make him stumble and knock the ball just wide.
Two minutes later, Aldershot had their winner and there was more than a stroke of good luck about it. A long throw-in was touched on by substitute Adam PARKER, but came off both Mark Cooper and Butler before going into the net.
"We are absolutely shattered," admitted both Towler and Paul Yates after the game. "Four games in 8 days is too much."
"Both teams looked very tired today," added manager Dave Anderson. "We didn't deserve to lose the game, but we also didn't do enough to win it."