Bostik Premier: Kingstonian 0 Hendon 0
PUBLISHED: 09:24 16 April 2018
Hendon, for the second time in three Saturdays, had to play for an hour with 10 men and, despite the man disadvantage were still the better team in the second half.
However, unlike in the Metropolitan Police match, there were no goals so the sides had to settle for a point each at Fetcham Grove – the first of two visits to leafy Leatherhead for the Greens in 11 days.
Luke Tingey dropped to the bench to allow for the return, as skipper, of Casey Maclaren and Sam Murphy was also among the substitutes as Michael Corcoran missed out on the 16.
The match was a landmark for Arthur Lee as he made his 100th appearance for Hendona And there was added frisson with the inclusion of Kevin Maclaren in the Ks line-up, albeit as a substitute, setting up the possibility of the brothers playing against each other for the first time.
This was a match a few chances, with the pitch typical for an end-of-season encounter, especially one when rapid drying has followed on from near-waterlogged conditions, and this certainly did nothing to improve the qualify of play.
The first incident of note was a shot after four minutes from Ks midfielder Greg Cundle, but his strike flew high and wide of the target.
Two minutes later, Casey Maclaren made a typical, totally committed challenge for the ball and the referee showed a yellow card.
A couple of minutes later, Manolis Gogonas leapt with Maclaren for a ball at a Leatherhead corner and went down with a bloodied nose.
It was clear – despite claims from home players and fans – that Maclaren had jumped upwards and Gogonas had leapt into the opponent.
Zak Joseph was, again, the main source of danger on the flanks and consistently got the better of the giant Chris Arthur, but the final ball into the danger area didn’t quite reach Niko Muir, Josh Walker or Ashley Nathaniel-George.
When Muir attacked down the right after 22 minutes, his low cross reached Joseph, but too fast for him to set himself for a shot, so the effort was directed straight at Rob Tolfrey, who was well-placed to make the save.
Two minutes later, Michael West got the better of Rian Bray but his shot was too close to Tom Lovelock, who made good save with his legs and the ball was cleared.
Just before the half-hour mark, Hendon fans’ worst fears were realised after they had forced a corner. The ball came in towards the far post and Maclaren arrived, off balance from a half-block by a Ks defender.
There was certainly no push, but only the Hendon captain will know why he threw his hand into the path of the ball – and failed to divert it into the net. Kingstonian players immediately approached the referee demanding action, but the official’s hands were already busy pulling out notebooks and cards.
Tolfrey wanted to take the resulting free-kick quite quickly, but saw that Maclaren was still making the long trudge towards the dressing room. Hendon, meanwhile, were down to 10 men and had a mountain to climb to win the game.
Joseph nearly embarrassed Tolfrey with another low ball delivered from close to the goalline, just inside the penalty area.
With Muir sensing the chance of a goal, the goalkeeper came off his line and nearly went too far as the ball bent back towards the goalline, gathering the ball at the second attempt.
Kingstonian were finding James Hammond, Ollie Sprague, Bray and Lee very hard to get past, with Jake Eggleton a bundle of energy in midfield in front of them. To bolster the midfield, Walker or Muir dropped deeper to assist Eggleton.
On the Kingstonian left, the leggy Muhammadu Faal tried hard to get the better of Hammond, but the wily full-back won almost all of the battles.
It was, nonetheless, a good battle, though the referee felt it necessary to warn both players for competing too hard against each other.
For the second half, Nathaniel-George was sacrificed for Tingey so that the Hendon midfield did at least have two in number.
And two minutes after the resumption, West tried another long-range shot, but it was narrowly wide of the target.
In the 57th minute, Muir finally got himself a shooting opportunity after good work from Joseph, as he got away from Gogonas and tried to find the top corner at the near post, but he was off target.
Four minutes later, good work from Eggleton saw him win the ball in midfield and his first time pass released Joseph but although the shot beat Tolfrey it flew wide.
Toby Ajala replaced Mark Phillips for the final quarter for Ks and they almost immediately had a great chance to break the deadlock as a bouncing ball deceived Hammond and gave Faal the chance to run at Lovelock. He fired low and the goalkeeper made a good save.
Play quickly went to the other end and Hendon players were frustrated there was no whistle when Tolfrey, quickly off his line, strayed outside the his penalty area to beat Muir to the ball.
He succeeded, but Hendon players and fans – and Ks fans in line with the incident – were adamant the goalkeeper had controlled the ball with his hand outside the penalty area.
Hendon made their second change with 19 minutes remaining, with Dan Uchechi taking over from Walker, while Tom Beere replaced West for the Ks and immediately started creating things for the home team, albeit without any end-product.
Beere fired a couple of off-target shots, but there was more urgency to Kingstonian’s play.
In the final 10 minutes, both teams made their last substitutions, Freddy Yao replacing Daniel Ajakaiye, who had been rather ineffective against Sprague, while Murphy took over from Joseph, who was on a caution.
Chances remained at a premium and a couple of Hendon set-pieces were very disappointing without a ball played anywhere near a green shirt in the danger area. Nonetheless, another point was gained and, with three matches to go, Hendon still have their destiny in their own hands, but the games against Merstham, Leatherhead and Leiston will all be difficult.
Hendon: Lovelock, Hammond, Sprague, Lee, Bray, Eggleton, Walker (Uchechi 77), Maclaren, Joseph, (S Murphy 84), Muir, Nathaniel-George (Tingey 46). Unused subs: Ball, Cole.
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