Southern League: Farnborough 3 Hendon 0
- Credit: Archant
Hendon continue to look nervously over their shoulders as another game slipped by without safety being achieved – or even relegation fears eased.
The 3–0 defeat against Farnborough at the EasyasHGV stadium was actually much closer than the scoreline suggests, with the Greens creating more chances – including a penalty – but failing to take them.
If there was consolation to be taken it was from elsewhere after defeats for four of the six teams teams which started the day not safe below them.
Frome Town, Gosport Borough, Walton Casuals and Basingstoke Town were those to lose and Frome can no longer reach 17th-placed Hendon’s 48 points, while Gosport need two wins in three matches to achieve 49.
Sergio Manesio returned after missing the Dorchester match with injury, and there were two changes to the subs’ bench. Ogo Obi dropped out of the starting line-up and he was joined by Matty Newman – JJ Da Cruz and Lewis Toomey being the two drop out of the 16.
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Hendon started brightly and had a chance to take the lead with barely 60 seconds gone.
The ball was played forward and fell to Ryan Hope, 18 yards from goal. His shot was certainly powerful, but it was hit high over the crossbar and crashed against the rear wall of the stand behind the goal.
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In the seventh minute, with a hint of things to come, Kurtis Cumberbatch attacked down the Farnborough left. He beat the defensive cover and both Mark Charles-Smith and Connor Cullen screaming for the ball, but instead found Luke Tingey, who wasted no time in clearing the danger.
Hope came close a second time in the 14th minute as he arrived to meet a cross from Charlie Smith and would have had a tap-in from just beyond the far post, but Elliot Bonds slid in and deflected the ball just wide of his upright at the expense of a corner.
Most of the good things for Farnborough came from Harry Cooksley in the heart of their midfield and he came close with a shot from the edge of the penalty area after 30 minutes, then bent a free-kick just wide eight minutes later.
It was hard to tell whether Chris Grace’s dive was because he felt a save was needed or if he was confident the effort was off-target.
Cumberbatch was next to try his luck and his 20-yard shot was pushed aside by Grace and the ball cleared by a defender with Cullen hunting for the rebound.
The Greens’ best chance of the half came in the 43rd minute when Connor Calcutt, against his former team, got the better of the giant Aaron Oakley and was left with only Liam Beach to beat. But with almost all of the goal to aim at, Calcutt somehow put the ball wide of the far post.
It proved a very costly miss because, in the first minute of first-half stoppage time, from an attack down the Farnborough right wing, they fashioned the opening goal. The ball came into the middle of the penalty area and, almost completely unmarked, Cullen headed into the corner of the goal.
Little of note happened in the opening dozen minutes of the second half. Certainly neither team was in the ascendancy, though Hendon did continue to look comfortable if unthreatening in sight of goal.
Just before the hour mark, Hendon conceded a free-kick on the left side, not far from the edge of the penalty area. They should have known what come – a flighted delivery from Cooksley – and been able to deal with it; instead they allowed Rob Bartley to run in without a challenge and he glanced a header into the net.
Hendon made a double change after 63 minutes, Newman and Obi coming on for Smith and Jacob Gardiner-Smith. It didn’t have the desired effect, as five minutes, later Farnborough had a third goal.
There was a hint of controversy about it as Calcutt appeared to be fouled 10 yards from the Farnborough penalty area – an almost identical offence to one for the which the Greens had been penalised in the first half.
This time there was no whistle and from the ball played downfield, Cullen set up Cumberbatch who made it 3–0 with great confidence.
Hendon had to be careful the game didn’t get out of hand and they nearly conceded a fourth in the 81st minute, when Cumberbatch had another shooting opportunity. This time, however, he was narrowly off target.
A minute later, the Greens should have been given a lifeline back into the game. Obi went down the inside left channel, cut into towards goal and was knocked over clumsily by Oakley. It was a soft penalty, but it seemed to be a foul – not dissimilar to one not given when Shaquille Hippolyte-Patrick was sent tumbling on the opposite side of the penalty area a few minutes earlier.
Hippolyte-Patrick has been Greens’ penalty taker since Ricardo German left for Crawley, but Obi took the ball and planted it on the penalty spot. He took a short run-up and Beach made a fine save low to his left.
This is not to say that Hendon might have achieved a remarkable escape, but they came very close to a goal a few minutes later.
From a corner, Tingey got himself into the clear and powered a header goalwards, only for Beach to make another acrobatic save.
As the game moved into four minutes of added time, Beach completed an eight-minute hat-trick of saves. Obi was the player denied on this occasion, but by now it would have been the scantest of consolations.
Home games against Taunton Town and Swindon Supermarine and an Easter Monday trip to Chesham United are all that remain for Hendon. One win will almost certainly be enough to ensure step three safety for this season, but although they will take it, they would prefer not to rely on other teams failing to pick up points.
Hendon: Grace, Hammond, Chappell, Manesio, Tingey, Brown, Hope, Gardiner-Smith (Newman 63), Calcutt, Hippolyte-Patrick, Smith (Obi 63). Unused subs: Jonas, McGleish, McCorkell.