Hendon suffered a hugely disappointing 1-0 defeat against Wingate & Finchley at the Abrahams Stadium on a suddenly-cold Boxing Day afternoon. In truth, the result was an unfair reflection of the way the game went, but Bobby Smith saved almost everything hit at him and other good chances were wasted with inaccurate finishes.
Ryan Wharton, recently re-signed on a dual registration basis with St Albans City, replaced the suspended Casey Maclaren in an otherwise unchanged starting 11, Hendon going with an attacking formation of two wingers and two strikers.
Nothing of note happened in the first dozen minutes, indeed the first foul came in the 12th minute, as the teams probed each other looking for weaknesses. A couple of crosses were easily dealt with by the opposing defences, so neither goalkeeper was called into action.
Gradually, however, the combination of Chris Seeby and Michael Bryan began to enjoy some success attacking the Wingate & Finchley left side. In the 19th minute, Seeby delivered an astute low ball into the heart of the penalty area.
Jefferson Louis, for once, escaped the attentions of Marc Weatherstone and had a free shot at goal from 12 yards. He went for power rather than placement and lifted the ball over the crossbar.
Six minutes later, Hendon fell behind. Lewis Jones, who had been a thorn in Hendon's side on a number of occasions a few years ago, made good yards down the right flank, going past both Tony Taggart and Jack Bennett.
He then sent over a cross which should have been dealt with by Wharton. Kevin Maclaren expected the danger to be overcome so slowed his run. Adam Bolle, the son of former Blues player Jon, on his debut, didn't break stride and he smashed the ball into the roof of the net from close range.
Hendon rather lost their composure for the next few minutes, but still created chances. A cross from Bryan was turned goalwards by Louis, but Bobby Smith made a good save.
Wharton was then harshly penalised for a foul on Bolle as he looked skywards at the dropping ball and found the forward running into him. It was just outside the penalty area and Jones took responsibility for the free-kick.
The shot was almost perfect, the ball thudding into the foot of the near post. Bolle ran in to meet the rebound, but somehow contrived to side-foot the ball outside the same upright when scoring seemed an easier alternative.
Six minutes before half-time, more good work resulted in a chance for Anthony Thomas, whose goals at the end of last season helped to keep Wingate & Finchley in the Premier Division. He turned past Bobby Asien and drilled the ball past Smith, only to see it scud off the underside of the crossbar and bounce to safety.
Shortly after this escape, Bryan rode a reckless tackle from Paul Wright - who was cautioned for the challenge when play next stopped - and sent over another cross towards Thomas. This time a blue-shirted player threw himself in front of his goalbound effort and had the good fortune to watch the ball lob up into the arms of a grateful Smith.
In the second half, Hendon concentrated attacking more on the opposite flank, but with significantly less success. A cross from Louis was headed goalwards by Thomas, but in attempting to get a decisive touch, Dave Diedhiou put the ball wide.
Diedhiou and Taggart made way for Carl McCluskey and Lee O'Leary as Hendon searched for the equaliser. For Wingate & Finchley, Hector Mackie and Jack Reed came on for Tommy Tejan-Sie and the quiet Leon Smith.
Hendon continued to dominate possession and create the majority of chances. Smith made good saves from Bryan and substitute Michael Murray - just on for Thomas, who had fired just wide a minute before he was replaced.
But it was not all one way traffic as a mazy run from Ola Williams resulted in a chance for substitute Mackie. He failed to beat Ross Fitzsimons and James Fisher, who stopped Williams illegally, was then cautioned.
Both teams had penalty appeals turned down. Jack Reed claimed he was pushed in the back as he chased a short back-pass and Fitzsimons danced past both him and Mackie before clearing the ball.
At the other end, Louis appeared to pulled down by Weatherstone inside the box and there was a challenge on him right on the edge of the penalty area that resulted in Murray's free-kick.
Murray had another chance with a free-kick, this time 25 yards from goal. He curled the ball towards the far post, rather than shooting at goal, and although a Hendon player won the aerial duel, his effort sent the ball just wide of the target.