Bostik Premier: Hendon 1 Margate 1
PUBLISHED: 16:01 11 March 2018
Hendon and Margate may have had the Bostik Premier Division’s two leading goalscorers in Jordan Chiedozie and Niko Muir, but neither could get the better of the opposition defences in a draw at Silver Jubilee Park.
In truth it wasn’t the greatest of matches, but with a lot at stake, it was understandable that both teams were somewhat cagey, something which was proved by the timings of both teams’ double substitutions – Margate after 80 minutes and Hendon five minutes later.
Josh Walker and Ashley Nathaniel-George were both fit enough to start for Hendon, while Harly Wise came into the defence with Ollie Sprague out injured. The other two to drop out of the starting line-up were Dave Diedhiou and Sam Murphy, the former being an unused substitute.
Also on the bench were Michael Corcoran, William Murphy and Matt Ball, the last-named returning from his loan at Kings Langley. Harold Joseph’s loan spell from St Albans had ended and he was back with the National League South club.
Luke Tingey nearly marked his 100th Hendon first-team appearance with his fourth goal for the club when his effort, after barely a minute, was on target, but did not have the power or direction to beat Lenny Pidgeley.
Pidgeley, however, could do nothing about the next shot he faced a minute later as Arthur Lee threaded a pass into the feet of Josh Walker, who turned, beat his marker to make space for a shot and fired the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
The early goal clearly unsettled the Gate defence because it was soon unlocked again when Ben Swift was caught in possession after six minutes and it took some desperate blocks to deny the Greens a second goal.
Zak Joseph ran into the penalty area, but just as Ashley Nathaniel-George was about to shoot, a Margate defender slid in to knock the ball away. It fell to Joseph, whose shot was blocked on the line and this time rebound was nicked away from Tingey as he lined up a shot from 18 yards.
Hendon continued to press and asked serious questions of the Margate defence with Muir threatening more as a creator than a goalscoring threat.
The real alarms were provided by Nathaniel-George, whose runs towards goal looked dangerous every time.
However, having weathered the early story, Margate showed their attacking prowess and in the 26th minute, a curling free-kick from Frannie Collin was punched away by Tom Lovelock, but the ball did not travel far and Liam Friend lobbed a free header over the crossbar and onto the top of the net.
Friend made another mistake, this time in his own half, five minutes later, and it led to another Hendon chance.
Walker dispossessed the defender and set off towards goal. Although the angle was quite acute and Muir was running into the penalty area, Walker tried to beat Pidgeley at the near post, the ball nestling in the side-netting.
Just before half-time, Margate’s increased pressure got its reward, although there was more than a hint of good fortune about their equaliser. Collin passed to Jay May, who controlled the ball and fired a shot which hit the foot of a green-shirted player.
Lovelock may well have been able to make a save without the inadvertent intervention, but he was left without a chance as the ball looped high in the air and dropped behind him on its way into the net.
Margate were in control for most of the first part of the second half, being quicker to the ball and stronger in challenges, with Hendon struggling to keep possession, let alone set up anything in the way of dangerous attacks.
Dave Martin proved difficult to handle and got past Casey Maclaren with ease after 52 minutes and Lovelock needed to grab to complete the save from his low shot towards the far post. Three minutes later, Wise cleared another shot from him.
In the 58th minute, Chiedozie somehow slipped behind the Hendon defensive line and he had a clear run at goal. Lovelock was quickly off his line, but it still required an excellent save to deny the son of the former Leyton Orient, Tottenham Hotspur and Nigeria international John.
With an hour gone, Collin almost scored with a free-kick from a very acute angle. It looked as if Lovelock had produced a magnificent fingertip save to tip the ball over the bar, but as the referee awarded a goal-kick – without much complaint from Margate players, it must be said – the assumption is that it was the top of the crossbar that diverted the ball away.
The Greens then had a lucky escape as Wise and Lovelock left a bouncing ball for each other. Lovelock eventually took control and attempted to clear the ball but it hit the chasing Chiedozie and bounced away from the goal.
Hendon finally created a couple of noteworthy chances in the final quarter and in the 69th minute, Muir did exceptionally well to win a challenge near to the corner flag. He ran into the penalty area, almost hugging the goalline, and then picked out Joseph at the far post. Joseph’s strike had power and accuracy, but neither were enough to beat Pidgeley, who saved well at his left post.
Walker fired into the side netting from a good position when he might have been better to have passed to one of a number of green shirts in a very crowded penalty area, but it may have been that none would have had as clear a shooting chance.
Collin and Martin were withdrawn by Margate for the final 10 minutes, with the more defensive Jack Evans and skillful wide player Matt Bodkin replacing them. Maybe it was an indication that Margate were happy to settle for the point they had.
Hendon’s response was to take off Joseph and Walker, sending on Ball and Uchechi, but there were only five minutes remaining, plus two of additional time.
There was nothing more than a quarter-chance for either team to snatch all three points and although Margate manager Steve Watt admitted he thought his team had been worth the win, he was probably more satisfied with the draw than Gary McCann and the Hendon team.
Hendon: Lovelock, Hammond, Lee, Tingey, Bray, Wise, Nathaniel-George, Maclaren, Joseph (Ball 85), Muir, Walker (Uchechi 85). Unused subs: Corcoran, Diedhiou, W Murphy.