Hendon's Ryman League Premier Division championship hopes took a knock when they drew 4-4 at third-placed Margate on Thursday night. It was a pulsating night of entertainment at Hartsdown Park which saw the Greens lead three times, then score in the last five minutes to snatch a point.
Dave Diedhiou returned to the starting line-up in place of Andre Da Costa, while Kevin Maclaren and Roman Michael-Percil were named on the subsâ€™ bench as Max McCann and Sam Flegg dropped out. Making a rare start for Margate was former Hendon star Jack Bennett, who has endured an injury and illness-blighted campaign on the Kent coast.
It took just five minutes for Hendon to take the lead. A free-kick down the left side, ten or so yards outside the penalty area, was curled in by Sam Murphy. Elliott Brathwaite and Charlie Goode raced into the penalty area, unchallenged, and tried to reach the ball.
Margate goalkeeper Nikki Bull was frozen to his line in case one of the centre-halves reached the ball. It appeared that neither did - although Goode wheeled away in joy as if he had touched the ball - but Murphy was given credited for the goal as the ball nestled just inside the far post.
A couple of minutes later, Kezie Ibe almost doubled the lead. He got behind the last defender but his shot was well saved by Bull.
Play moved up to the other end and Margate came close when a corner was headed across the face of goal by a defender and at the expense of another corner.
Back to the other end, Hendon created a shooting opportunity through Lee O'Leary. The captain's effort, however, was rather scuffed and the ball bobbled wide of the target.
Gate's next attack saw a chance fall to Lewis Taylor, set up by Moss, but he fired high and wide of the goal, aiming at the near post from a very narrow angle.
In the 18th minute, they got an equaliser. It came from the same source as Hendon's opener, a free-kick. It was quickly taken by Moss, and the ball took a nasty bobble just in front of Ben McNamara, bouncing into the net.
O'Leary's evening came to a very painful end when Brett Johnson lunged in on him and left a mass of stud marks across his knee. The Gate man was maybe lucky to receive only a yellow card, when a more serious sanction might have been more appropriate. Peter Dean came on to replace the stricken skipper.
Margate's defending of free-kicks remained poor because Murphy again delivered a goal-making set-piece. Once again, Goode and Brathwaite made unchecked runs into the penalty area and, this time, the latter diverted a well-placed header past Bull.
Margate were also forced into a first-half change. Six minutes before the interval, Kane Wills took over from Ben Gerring.
Murphy almost grabbed a second goal with a free-kick when his effort was tipped against the crossbar by Bull, who was at full stretch. There was no chance for a Hendon attacker to follow up on the rebound.
The next time Ibe was able to get around a defender, it was on the edge of the penalty area and he set up Aaron Morgan. The striker, making his 100th appearance for Hendon, shot a goal, but saw his strike pushed aside by Bull.
There was still time before the interval for Murphy to have another shot. This time, it went just over crossbar, but Bull did appear to have it covered.
If anything, the second half was even more eventful. Before the resumption, Hendon had to replace Casey Maclaren with Da Costa - Leon Smith would come on for Morgan with 13 minutes to go.
Four minutes after the resumption, a right wing cross into the Hendon penalty area was deflected back by a green-shirted defender at the near post. Ryan James was quickest to react and he headed the ball into the net from eight yards out.
Parity lasted only six minutes as the Margate defence was again found wanting. It started with James crossing from the left wing, but straight into the arms of McNamara.
The goalkeeper spotted Ibe marked only by Charlie Wassmer, a match-up that favoured Hendon. McNamara's kick into the Margate night flew downfield and bounced towards the Gate penalty area.
Bull came racing off line to deal with the danger, but he was left stranded as Wassmer headed the ball towards his now untended goal. He put just too much weight on the header to allow Ibe a touch for his 23rd of the season, so it was credited as an own goal.
Margate equalised for a third time in the 71st minute when a right-wing free-kick was flicked on. The ball bounced in the penalty area and fell to James, who turned past Diedhiou before firing a rising drive past McNamara's right shoulder into the roof of the net.
Freddie Ladapo tried to get his name on the scoresheet as he raced onto a through ball, though the striker risked life and limb as he launched himself to try and reach it before the Hendon defender, who cleared the danger.
Next to try his luck was Murphy, a constant thorn in the Margate side. His dipping drive was just too high, but Bull was at full stretch.
With eight minutes to go, Margate thought they had won the game when they took the lead for the first time. A long throw was not dealt with and when the ball was crossed into the six-yard-box, Moss rose high to plant a header into the net.
James, then had a shot which was deflected towards the near post by Diedhiou. McNamara, however, was close enough to adjust his body and made a comfortable save.
This Hendon team doesn't know when it is beaten, because they found a way back into the game with just five minutes remaining. Da Costa scored from a free-kick which didn't seem to have much power but it was well directed.
And the drama wasn't over because, from yet another free-kick, Murphy curled the ball just wide of the target. Bull, covering the opposite post, had to scramble across his goalline and probably wouldn't have reached the ball had it been going just inside the post.