Hendon suffered a second disappointing defeat at Hitchin in a fortnight, going down 3-0 in the Ryman League Premier Division on Tuesday night. If there was an element of misfortune in the FA Cup exit on 16 October, this time it was a clear case of the self-destruct being pushed long and hard.
In the 12th minute, Davis Haule was lucky not to be sent off for a petulant lunge at Tim Allpress, who had obstructed him in shepherding the ball out of play for a goal kick. Referee Mr P Crossley decided that Allpress had been within playing distance of the ball and then ruled that Haule's kick at the defender was an attempt to play at the ball.
In the 18th minute, a low cross from Dale Binns was almost turned into his own net by Darren Sarll, but the ball just rolled wide of the post. Two minutes later, Micky Woolner was caught out by a defensive header from Paul Towler but Chris McMenamin wasted the chance.
In the 29th minute, Sarll tried again to score an own goal, but this time his intervention undoubtedly stopped the ball going to Paul Fewings. Instead, the ball went back towards the near post, but rolled a yard behind the incoming Phil Ruggles, whose desperate attempt to bundle the ball into the net from behind him failed.
Woolner's unhappy evening went from bad to worse in the 33rd minute. A long cross from Carl Williams should have been a comfortable take for David Hook, but Woolner reacted late to the call and succeeded only in setting up Matt NOLAN for the easiest of tap-ins.
Before half-time, both Jon-Barrie Bates and Paul Yates collected cautions as Hendon's discipline slipped. The opening minutes of the second half were fairly uneventful, but in the 58th minute the game exploded.
A cross from the Hendon left was not dealt with and the ball fell to Dale Binns, who had a much better game than in recent weeks. His first-time volley was destined for the roof of the net, but for a brave block from Nick Grime.
The ball was cleared and then launched 70 metres downfield. Hook and Woolner again had a communication breakdown as the wind held up the ball. Woolner's evening went from bad to worse as, caught out by the bouncing ball and with Hook out of position, he ended up fouling Cliff Akurang. Mr Crossley really had no alternative but to award a penalty and dismiss Woolner. MARSHALL dutly converted the spot-kick.
Three minutes later, Hendon were caught out again. Towler somehow lifted the ball over the bar from 6 yards following a corner, then, from the goal-kick, a quick raid down the right flank resulted in a pin-point cross. AKURANG rose well and powered in a fine header past Hook for No. 3. Hitchin enjoyed a huge amount of possession, especially down their left flank, but they did little with it. Hook produced one excellent save, but Hitchin did not over-exert themselves.
In the 72nd minute, Simon Clarke came as close as any Hendon player to scoring when he curled a free-kick towards goal. He was denied by a brilliant save from Nick Webb. Hendon's only other chance of note came from substitute Eugene Ofori, who having broken clear of the Hitchin defence, fired a shot into the side netting at the near post.
"We were very poor tonight," admitted manager Dave Anderson. "When you are not playing well, you can at least try for a nil-nil draw but we were guilty of some Keystone Kops defending for the first two goals."