Hendon suffered a hugely disappointing defeat when a shot struck Ross Pickett and bounced past David Hook into the net, thus giving Chesham United a 2-1 victory at LOOT Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Greens made 6 changes to the starting line-up with on-loan Paul Fewings back at Chesham, Mark Cooper away on business, Jon-Barrie Bates suspended and Eugene Ofori injured. In addition Byron Bubb was a substitute and Marvyn Watson left out of the 14. Into the team came Micky Woolner at right-back, Mark Burgess at left-back (Simon Clarke moved to centre-back), Davis Haule and Paul Yates in midfield and Pickett partnered Phil Ruggles up front (Joe Nartey and Pat Sapptleton were the other two subs).
It took Chesham just 80 seconds to open the scoring. Woolner conceded a free-kick near to the touchline and the kick was taken quickly. When the ball reached the middle of the penalty area, Steve DARLINGTON was all alone 8 yards out. His sidefoot into the almost unguarded net was his first goal for the Generals.
In the 8th minute, Chesham should have been reduced to 10 men when Lee Spiller committed a bad challenge on Dale Binns, from behind and late. An angry Binns was quickly on his feet, but that does not alter the fact that Mr Paul Harrison failed to follow the letter of the law. Even worse, he failed to issue even a yellow card.
The result of Mr Harrison's leniency was that the players decided to take their own actions, in the belief that there would be no sanction from the man in black. Haule made a run towards the goal-line down the right wing and was pulled to the ground by a defender, who then appeared to lead with his elbow as the players fell. Mr Harrison deemed that Haule, although in possession, was the guiltier party and gave Chesham the free-kick.
In the 19th minute, Hendon drew level with the best piece of football in the match. A throw-in to Pickett found the striker with two defenders on his back. He sent a delicious back-heel into the path of Ruggles, who then beat a defender with another neat touch and set up Steve FORBES, who knocked the ball past one defender and slid it under the advancing Delroy Preddie.
In the 28th minute, a collision between Pickett and Fitzroy Hall resulted in the two players indulging in an angry pushing match. They were both cautioned, and may have been lucky not to get red cards. Burgess's decision to join the fray from a long way off earned him a yellow card too.
The nasty undertones remained evident before half-time, but there were no further flare-ups either. However, when Preddie collided with Pickett as he stretched for a cross and did not get a free-kick he let Mr Harrison know his feelings by running 15 yards towards the official, screaming at him. The tirade lasted 30 seconds, but Mr Harrison ignored his protests.
The second half was even for the first 25 minutes, with neither team able to breach the other's defence. For Hendon, Binns tried an 18-yard volley which, if he was on top of his game, would probably rocket into the roof of the net. Still a little off top form, his shot was easily gathered by Preddie.
Preddie was, however, well beaten by a 20-yard shot from Forbes. Unfortunately for Hendon, the ball went a foot the wrong side of the post. The only other effort on target was a 75th minute free-kick from Woolner which did not have the pace or dip to beat Preddie, who had nonetheless to be quick across his line to catch the curling effort just under the crossbar.
In the 77th minute, a Hendon corner was quickly cleared by the Chesham defence and it allowed Spiller the chance to make a quick break down the right flank. The ball cleared for a corner, which Spiller took, and it was knocked out for another corner, this time from the Chesham left.
Spiller ran across to take it and his inswinger was headed on beyond the far post. Waiting there, unmarked, was Garry Wotton, but his drive back across the penalty area was not going towards the goal. It struck Pickett, who probably barely saw it before it hit him, so he couldn't get out of the way. The ball bounced off him and past David Hook into the net for the most unfortunate of own goals.
Chesham took advantage of the Hendon players' heads dropping by defending deep in the Greens' half. Although they didn't come close to extending their lead, they looked even less likely to lose it.
"We were much improved on last week," said manager Dave Anderson, "and the winning goal was just one of those things."