Hendon rebounded from the disappointment of Saturday's second half against now relegated Walton & Hersham with a match-winning second stanza against troubled Carshalton Athletic at LOOT Stadium on Monday afternoon.
Hendon rang the changes after Saturday, Matt Howard, Matt Bartholomew and Bontcho Guentchev replacing Gary Fitzgerald, Curtis Warmington and Marvyn Watson, the last-named who dropped to the substitutes bench alongside Dominic Gentle and young Nathan Edwards. The pitch, still very soft had dried out in parts but there had been no time to get a roller onto it.
Both teams took quite a while to come to terms with the difficult surface and a short back-pass almost undid Andy Iga, after 18 minutes, but Richard Newbery and Phil Barber combined to waste an excellent scoring opportunity. Carshalton had the breeze at their backs and Paul Smith's long clearances gave Paul Towler, Bartholomew, and Warren Kelly some difficulty. However, the Robins lacked the confidence and the nous to unlock the Hendon defence. All too often deep crosses were too close to Iga, whose handling was exemplary.
Also exemplary was the performance of referee Mr R Evans (Kent). Always close to the play, he was on top of just about every major incident and got them all right. He produced yellow cards three times and none of the players can have too much complaint about their cautions.
Hendon's best player going forward was Davis Haule. His fine close control and gangling gait make him a difficult man to dispossess and his confidence has grown in recent weeks as he has nailed down a regular place in the team. The impressive Orlando Hollingsworth just about got the better of golden-booted Guentchev, while Paul Whitmarsh had a quiet game up front.
The second half was much better than the first. In the 52nd minute, a 35-yard free kick from Freddie Hyatt was arrowing just inside the near post before Smith flung himself across goal to make a fine save. It only delayed the inevitable for a few minutes as Hendon exerted greater control.
In the 61st minute, Haule attacked down the right side of the penalty area. Chris Currie made a challenge which sent the Hendon man to the floor. The assistant referee immediately flagged for a penalty and Mr Evans pointed to the spot. HYATT, remembering his spot-kick winner 2 weeks ago, decided to go the other way with this strike and Smith guessed wrongly.
Manager Gary Bowyer and Andy Salako immediately came on for Carshalton, replacing defenders Hollingsworth and Currie, but the damage had been done. Hendon were playing with lots of confidence and the passing was much better, Guentchev taking a more dominant role. Jon Daly almost got on the end of a Hyatt corner and Carshalton, needing a goal, had to be more careful about conceding a second.
In the 68th minute, another careless challenge, this time by Sean Daly on Haule, led a free-kick just outside the penalty area. Hyatt turned provider delivering a super free-kick, which TOWLER converted with a blistering header from 10 yards. "I've been telling Freddie for weeks to put the ball there," said a smiling Towler after the game.
Simon Clarke came close to adding a third with a free-kick which deflected off a defensive wall. All three Hendon substitutes came on in a 10-minute period and Edwards nearly set up Gentle with some unselfish play and accurate cross. Smith produced a brilliant block to deny Gentle a 22nd goal of the season.
"We played really well today, especially in the second half," said happy manager Frank Murphy. "After Saturday's performance we needed that."