Hendon were as lucky to pick up all 3 points from Easter Monday's 2-0 victory over Hampton & Richmond Borough at LOOT Stadium as they had been unfortunate to come away from Grays Athletic on Saturday with nothing to show for their efforts.
The victory keeps the Dons in 14th spot but, more importantly, it means that the team has reached the psychologically important 42-point mark. Hendon's second Ryman League Premier Division double of the season was also the second straight clean sheet kept at home by goalkeeper Richard Wilmot.
He was by far the busier and safer keeper, although he was playing behind a much-changed Greens line-up. Six out of 10 outfield players were omitted: Warren Kelly, Chris Sparks, Ross Pickett, Davis Haule, Paul Adolphe and Jon Daly - the last three moving to the subs bench - while in came Phil Gridelet, Gary Fitzgerald, Jason Soloman, Bontcho Guentchev, Otis Roberts and David Adekola.
Hampton had a very strong and bitterly cold wind at their backs in the first half and it was one of those which was significantly stronger the higher up one got. One booming second half clearance by Wilmot bounced once and was caught by his opposite number, former Hendon triallist Eric Talbot.
In the first minute, Adekola had a snap-shot which flew just wide of Talbot's left post, with the American unable to do anything about it. It was to be Hendon's only effort of any description in the opening half hour. At the other end, Fiston Manuella rose high beyond the far post but he bounced his free header off the top of the Hendon crossbar.
Hampton entered the game as the Division's second highest scorers, but their touch in front of goal has rather deserted them in recent weeks. Further evidence of this was the save by Wilmot from the normally deadly Craig Maskell after 15 minutes.
In the 23rd minute, Marvyn Watson, celebrating his 100th first team appearance, made a miraculous block to keep the scores level. Gary Holloway seemed to have the whole goal to aim at as Dean Green found him with an astute pass. Watson, however, closed down the angle and got his foot to Holloway's shot. The deflection completely wrong-footed Wilmot, who was sitting on the goal-line as the ball trundled slowly away off the post and out for a corner.
In the 30th minute, Guentchev made a break down the right side. A bobble forced him to take the ball further but as he was about to cross Nick Burton came in with a diving challenge to knock the ball away. Referee Mr I Williamson (Reading) correctly ruled the challenge to be a dangerous one, irrespective of whether the ball had been won.
Dale Binns curled the ball into the danger area, the ball going barely two feet above the ground. GUENTCHEV was completely unmarked as he sidefooted the ball into the net. Burton was so incensed with the decision that he ran up to the referee and shouted (expletives deleted), "That goal was your fault, Ref", but unless Mr Williamson had been assigned to mark Guentchev, Burton was wrong and his observation earned him a yellow card.
Hendon struggled to keep tabs on the dangerous Green, but his teammates let him down badly. Far too many crosses were too close to Wilmot who easily plucked them out of the air. Wilmot did make a couple of good saves, while Hampton wasted a number of free-kicks in dangerous positions, RenÃ¯Â¿Â½ Street and Fitzgerald coping with the aerial challenge and Gridelet looking assured in his role as sweeper, where he made his name at Hendon 15 years ago.
Seven minutes after half-time, Hendon suffered a huge blow when Iain Duncan was stretchered off with a serious-looking knee injury. He was hurt making a block-tackle on Green and was taken straight off to hospital for x-rays. Adolphe came on, forcing Binns into a more defensive role, but Adolphe's pace through midfield against a tiring Hampton defence more than made up for the reduction of Binns as an attacking option.
Adolphe and Binns both made fantastic runs out of defence right to the edge of the Hampton box, but their passes were not quite right. If either had scored, they would have been candidates for goal of the season.
The second Hendon goal arrived midway through the second half. A corner from Guentchev was not properly cleared and Soloman curled the ball back into the danger area. Adekola went for it but didn't make contact. Binns, however, did and, having controlled the ball, he struck a powerful shot under Talbot.
Hampton then had a very good appeal for a penalty turned down as Street appeared to collide with Leroy Griffiths as they challenged for a header and then Maskell went to ground following a sliding challenge. Mr Williamson admitted he had been unsighted by the first incident, but was convinced the second challenge was not a foul.
In the 78th minute, an amazing scramble in the Hendon penalty area saw three different players throw themselves in front of goalbound shots to make blocks. At that moment, Hampton knew that this was not to be their day. Things almost got much worse for them, a minute later, when a header from Binns bounced in front of Talbot, who was very lackadaisical in getting his body behind the ball and was extremely fortunate to see it bounce off his shoulder and clip the crossbar on its way out for a corner.
"I thought we struggled to get going in the first half," admitted manager Frank Murphy. "The wind was very difficult. We should have won on Saturday, but didn't get the breaks. Today, however, we deserved a draw, and probably not a victory. But I'll take it."