Hendon continued their head-scratching season with a more than disappointing 1-0 Ryman League Premier Division defeat at home to Croydon on Saturday.
After winning the previous game 6-0 away, Hendon manager Dave Anderson unsurprisingly kept team changes to a minimum. The only one was enforced because Micky Woolner was suspended, so Marvyn Watson came into the starting line-up and Phil Ruggles was a substitute.
Croydon came into the game with the worst defensive record in the division with 39 goals conceded in 17 matches. They set out their stall to keep a clean sheet with the hope of a snatching some scraps on the break and pressurising Hendon players whenever they had possession. The result was a dour, negative match; the two teams mustering less than a dozen attempts on goal, only 3 of which were on target.
The first half was as good an advertisement for Mogadon as it was a bad one for football. There were three attempts at goal in the 45 minutes - from a Simon Clarke free-kick, and efforts from Croydon's Peter Garland and Nic McDonnell - and the only danger to either goalkeeper from them was neckstrain as they tried to follow the ball's path as it sailed high over the crossbar.
Bubb showed one lovely piece of skill in the 17th minute. He got around the back of the Croydon defence and tried to set up either Eugene Ofori or Paul Fewings. The two strikers were well off the pace all afternoon and, on this occasion, quickest to react was Tony Chin, whose hacked clearance sent the ball a yard wide of his own goal.
A low cross from Binns in the 24th minute also caused a moment's consternation in the Blues' defence. This time it was Ali Reeve who came a little too close to scoring an own goal for comfort with his clearance.
In the 40th minute, Croydon playmaker Peter Garland displayed his lack of self-discipline with a rash aerial challenge on Jon-Barrie Bates. Referee Mr A Wilkins (Kent) produced a yellow card.
In the 47th minute, Garland showed the other side of his game. The first man signed by Kevin Keegan when he was manager of Newcastle United struck a fine, curling a free-kick which David Hook did well to tip over the crossbar. The corner came to nothing.
It turned out to be Garland's last positive act of the game as, 4 minutes later, he reacted to a hard but fair challange from Bates by taking the law into his own hands. Mr Wilkins did not consider Bates' tackle a foul, so Garland, the red mist descending, lashed out. The red card was a formality. Unfortunately for Hendon, Bates had to leave the field for more treatment, so at least temporarily, both teams were reduced to 10 men. Croydon took full advantage of Bates' absence to steal the game.
In the 54th minute, a long clearance downfield should have been fairly easy for Mark Cooper to deal with, but Hook came out of his goal and collided with him. As both players fell to the ground, McDONNELL took possession and stroked the ball into the unguarded net from an acute angle.
Seven minutes later, Hendon should have equalised. Watson and Bubb combined to feed Joe Nartey, who had replaced Ofori. Nartey knocked the ball into Fewings, who finally timed a run to beat the offside the trap to have a clear run at goal. However, he appeared not to trust his "wrong" foot so his shot lacked power and Matt Martin made a save with his feet.
From the resulting corner, Paul Towler rose well, but his powerful header went a couple of feet wide of the post. In the 71st minute, Bubb made another mazy run and tried a curling low shot. Martin was well beaten by the effort, but the ball did not curl enough as it went just wide of the far post.
Ruggles and Ross Pickett were introduced in the final 15 minutes (for Fewings, who completed his loan spell with this match, and Steve Forbes, who could not stamp his class on the game), but they could not fashion an equaliser.
In the 87th minute, Croydon should have made the game safe when an unmarked Omari Coleman received a pass 15 yards out in a left central position. He had time to steady himself before shooting, but his effort went a yard wide of the near post.
"This was really a case of after the Lord Mayor's Show," moaned Mr Anderson. "It was a very poor game. We didn't pass well, and our passing was awful. I was afraid we would have this reaction after scoring 6 goals last weekend and this is exactly what happened."