Hendon suffered yet another defeat on Tuesday night, going down to Gravesend & Northfleet by 3 goals to 0. The result took Gravesend to the top of the table.
Hendon welcomed Simon Clarke, Michael Woolner, Ross Pickett and Lee O'Donnell back into the starting line up, replacing the suspended Davis Haule, the sick Paul Towler, and Paul Johnson and Paul Yates who joined the returning Mark Burgess on the bench. Burgess last appeared for the first team in April 1997.
Gravesend had the first chance in the 7th minute when Che Stadhart broke clear, but shot wide across the goal, and soon afterwards one of the Fleet attackers sent another attempt wide of the goal. In the 19th minute there was some good build up play by Hendon as they began to get into the game, and Dale Binns, Marvyn Watson and Ross Pickett were involved in a particularly good move. Two minutes later Lee O'Donnell had a goalbound shot blocked by Pickett.
Gravesend were forced into a substitution in the 24th minute when Justin Skinner was replaced by Paul Booth after the former appeared to suffer a groin strain, and just a minute later Ricci Crace probably had Hendon's best chance of the game when he received a good ball from Pickett, but shot inches wide of the far post.
In the 27th minute came Gravesend's first goal. The ball was crossed from the right hand side, a shot was blocked, but the loose ball fell to Francis DUKU who fired the ball firmly into the net. A minute later Rene Street cleared the ball off the goalline from a long shot, but from the resulting corner the lead was doubled.
The corner was played short on the left hand side, and from the following cross there was a goalmouth scramble, and the ball was put into the net by Aaron BARNETT. Four minutes later Simon Clarke drove in a good cross from the left wing, but the ball just eluded Watson and was cleared to safety by the Gravesend defence.
In the 39th minute, things got worse for Hendon. Ricci Crace appeared to fall awkwardly in the box when challenge for the ball with a couple of defenders, and he was stretchered off and replaced by Paul Johnson. Crace was taken to hospital with a suspected knee injury, although nothing has yet been confirmed.
A minute before half time, Gravesend scored their third goal when Che STADHART saw his shot deflected into the net by one of his own players. The goal pretty much sealed the points for Gravesend, as Hendon minds turned towards Crace's injury.
The second half was largely uneventful, Gravesend had much of the possession, but were unable to create many clearcut chances, and those that were created were either sent wide or over the goal. Paul Booth, Liam Hatch and Che Stadhart were all guilty of misses.
Hendon gradually earned more of the ball and in the last quarter of an hour, Dale Binns saw a shot well saved by goalkeeper Adrian Blake, Jon-Barrie Bates saw a 25 yard drive fly over the wall, and Paul Johnson was unfortunate not to have better reward after a useful run through midfield when he beat two defenders.
Overall it was another disappointing performance by Hendon, and they must surely hope for better at Canvey Island, who now lie second in the table, on Saturday afternoon.