Hendon made it two consecutive draws with a hard-earned point against Beaconsfield Town at Holloways Park on Saturday. As well as an away point, the Greens could also celebrate their first clean sheet since the beginning of December.
Only one starter made his debut for the club, Charlie Smith, but Ryan Hope made his first start and Jacob Gardiner-Smith and Ogo Obi both debuted off the bench. Those who dropped out of the starting 11 were the injured Darren Locke and Gianni Crichlow, who was an unused substitute.
This was a foul-filled game, desperately disappointing in quality, but Hendon simply had to grind out a result and beauty was less important than a point gained. Beaconsfield, for a top-ten team, really didn't offer much, but that might have been because they lost one of their key players when he was injured in the opening minutes.
Bajram Pashaj was sprinting down the left side to chase a ball and Luke Tingey came across to deal with the danger and collided, illegally, with Pashaj. Tingey was cautioned for challenge but Pashaj collided with the concrete wall surrounding the pitch, dangerously close to the touchline.
Sadly for Pashaj he suffered a serious upper arm injury and left the pitch with his arm in a sling, being replaced by Dan Brown. A couple of minutes later, Hendon had probably their biggest escape of the afternoon.
From a left-side set-piece Louis Stead arrived at the back post and struck a shot which hit the nearest upright. However, his angle was so acute, the ball actually went downfield and Hendon were able to clear.
Romario Jonas was then caught by Marvin Morgan in what looked like a rather vengeful challenge. And, for the next 20 or so minutes, there was little football and lots of niggly fouls during which Lee Chappell saw yellow for a challenge which stopped a possible quick counter-attack.
Although offering little in attack, Lewis Toomey and Shaquille Hippolyte-Patrick were forced to raid from too deep, Hendon were much better in midfield, Sergio Manesio, Hope, Bayley Brown and Smith were very strong. They negated pretty much everything Beaconsfield tried to do, making this a typical long-ball game.
Both defences were also very disciplined in keeping their defensive lines high, so balls for forwards to chase were often overhit. And, frustratingly for the home team, Brendan Matthew and Morgan all too frequently were caught offside, and none of the decisions looked remotely questionable.
In the 44th minute, Stead had another chance to shoot. This time, however, although he beat Danny Boness, he was just off target.
Hendon players were unhappy when a cynical foul on Hippolyte-Patrick went without a card for Luke Neville, but that was probably the only error from the referee who had to handle a very difficult game.
There was another incident with the wall surrounding the pitch when Toomey, in trying to keep the ball in play, was forced over the goal-line and fell into the wall. There was a moment of worry for all concerned before the Hendon man picked himself up, albeit a little sorely, and was able to continue.
With the injury to Pashaj and a few other stoppages, it was little surprise that the additional time stretched to eight minutes, but only not all of those were played before the half-time whistle was blown.
Toomey had a half-chance early in the second half, but he tried to send in Hippolyte-Patrick rather than taking on the chance himself. The weather deteriorated as the half progressed and it made the pitch became slick and slippery, but although still horribly over-reliant on long balls forward, the teams cut back on the number of fouls.
Boness was the busier goalkeeper and he made three saves from powerful longish-range drives. They were all straight at him, but given the conditions, he did very well to hold onto the ball, especially a strike from Stead bounced just in front of him.
Although the game had many fewer stoppages for free-kicks, Jonas and Brown both collected cautions, as much for their first-half indiscretions, while Beaconsfield had a central defender also see yellow.
Not long before he was replaced, Morgan fired a free-kick just over the crossbar and, later in the half, Stead was wide with another one. When Morgan went off, he was replaced by Jon-Jo Bates, who offered more mobility though not the same quality in holding up the ball or as an aerial threat.
Hendon made two changes midway through the half as debutants Gardiner-Smith came on for Smith and Obi took over from Toomey, who had forced Ravan Constable into a save, but it was not difficult. The Greens' best effort was a shot from the edge of the penalty area, which looked to be on target, but it was blocked out for a corner by a sliding defender.
With a couple of minutes remaining, Bates beat the offside trap and made tracks towards the penalty area. Jonas tried desperately to slow down the former Wembley, Hendon, Harrow and Dagenham and Redbridge player.
The referee played an advantage as Bates continued forward, but Beaconsfield failed to take full toll of their benefit and Hendon were able to clear the ball away for a corner. Unfortunately, for Jonas, the referee had not forgotten his illegal attempted intervention and she showed him another yellow card and the obvious red.
There was a little more than a minute remaining as Jonas disappeared down the tunnel, and three minutes off additional time for the Dons to survive. Nerves were jangling among the Hendon faithful as the clock ticked down, but they were able to hang on.