Hendon suffered another home Ryman League Premier Division defeat on Saturday, this time losing to high-flying Kingstonian. The Greens have won only twice at Earlsmead since making it their home, their away game against landlords Harrow Borough and in the FA Cup against Biggleswade United.
Kevin Maclaren's absence, he had a minor injury, was keenly felt and he was replaced by Dave Diedhiou. The only other change saw the return of James Fisher, at the expense of Carl McCluskey, who dropped to the bench; Fisher also took the captain's armband.
For the third consecutive league match, there was goal action in the opening five minutes. Unfortunately for Hendon it was at the wrong end as a misplaced header from Sam Flegg resulted in a Kingstonian corner.
The ball was curled in towards the far post and was headed back towards the middle of the penalty area. Matt Drage was perfectly placed to meet the ball and he planted it in the net with barely a challenge on him.
It didn't take long for the next chance to arrive, but Charles Owuse-Hene took one touch too many and Jack Bennett was able to intervene. The youngster had a very good first half and he helped to set up Hendon's first real chance of the game, in the 16th minute.
Bennett's cross into the penalty was headed down by Jefferson Louis towards Michael Bryan, who was at a bit of an angle, and under pressure from Aaron Goode. They were enough for Bryan's shot to be ill-directed, clearing the angle of post and crossbar.
Almost immediately play broke down to the other end and Tommy Kavanagh's well-weighted ball split the Hendon defence. Andre McCollin ran on to the ball and had only Charlie Horlock to beat. The goalkeeper, however, stuck out a leg and deflected the goalbound effort aside.
For 20 minutes, if not quite end-to-end stuff, the game was played at a frenetic pace. It calmed down for the next dozen or so minutes, even though Tony Taggart and Bryan for Hendon and Owusu-Hene and Charlie Knight for Kingstonian continued to ask questions of the full-backs in front of them.
In the 33rd minute, Kingstonian doubled their advantage in somewhat strange fashion. A routine deep cross into the penalty area saw Horlock come off his line to reach the ball while and Ryan Moss ran in to meet it. Although there was clearly contact between the two players, both were looking at the ball.
The two players fell to the ground. Moss quickly picked himself up, waited for what he considered the inevitable whistle from the referee and, when none was forthcoming, knocked the ball into the empty net.
Moss then turned to look at the referee, and then the assistant referee, who didn't raise his flag. The referee also looked to his assistant and when he was satisfied that neither had seen nothing untoward, awarded the goal, which Moss celebrated rather sheepishly.
It should be noted that there was almost no protest from the Hendon team and it did look that the decision was the right one.
Five minutes later, Hendon were back in the game. More good work from Bennett resulted in a cross, which ended up at the feet of Michael Murray, with no defender particularly close to him. Although his first touch was not the most confident, Murray was able to get the ball where he wanted and his low shot went just inside the post with Rob Tolfrey unable to reach it.
Kingstonian nearly restored their two-goal advantage a couple of minutes before half-time. Moss was released by another slide-rule pass out of midfield and was left with only Horlock between him and a double.
He went for power rather than placement, but Horlock again used his body well to make a save even better than the one to deny McCollin earlier in the half.
Hendon went straight back onto the attack and were desperately unlucky not to get an equaliser from this raid. Kingstonian cleared the ball out for a corner, taken by Bryan.
It was perfectly directed for Flegg who powered a header past Tolfrey and over the head of Goode guarding the near post. Unfortunately for the centre-half the ball cannoned off the post and back towards the penalty spot.
Lee O'Leary was first reach it and his header also beat Tolfrey, but not Goode who headed the ball back to him. This time, O'Leary's floated header cleared the crossbar and landed on top of the net.
Given the way that Hendon had upped the tempo in the final few minutes of the period, and had dominated proceedings - notwithstanding the Moss chance - the half-time whistle came at a most inopportune time for the Greens.
The 15 minutes in the dressing room were well used by the Kingstonian management team as they decided to take the steam out of the game. Ks were rarely tourbled after break, although they did have one anxious moment soon after the resumption.
Chris Seeby made a good run down the right and his cross was destined for a Hendon player coming in unchallenged at the far post. Goode raced in to head the ball clear but he was a very relieved man to see it fly inches wide of the far post at expense of a corner.
Twelve minutes into the second half, Kingstonian made a double-switch with Knight and Owusu-Hene replaced by Dee Okojie and Matt Pattinson, It was clearly a move designed to shore up the middle of the field.
That said, Ks still looked more likely to score and they had two or three very loud penalty appeals turned down, one for a challenge by Horlock and another for handball. In both cases, Hendon were probably a little fortunate not to concede a spot-kick, though the third appeal was probably more in desperation and frustration not having got the others.
Horlock also made two very good saves to deny first Moss and then McCollin. Hendon made three changes, withdrawing Taggart, Diedhiou and Murray, and replacing them with Aaron Morgan, Anthony Thomas and Billy Lobjoit, respectively.
The last good chance for Hendon in the 82nd minute. A good cross from the right fell to the feet of Thomas who rifled the ball towards the roof of the net, only for Tolfrey to pull off a superb acrobatic save, pushing the ball just over the crossbar.
"I was very disappointed with the first-half performance," said manager Gary McCann. "With 10 minutes to go until half-time, I was prepared to make two or three substitutions at the break, but Murray's goal, and our reaction to it, changed my thinking.
"Kingstonian showed greater enthusiasm than us and were in control. We didn't deal well with it and our passing wasn't very good today."