Bostik Premier: Brightlingsea Regent 2 Hendon 1
PUBLISHED: 13:08 28 August 2017
Hendon's first-ever meeting with Brightlingsea Regent ended in defeat as the hosts netted a91st-minute winner in an encounter that could have gone either way.
As with the game on opening day at Tonbridge Angels, missed chances proved the difference between coming away with at least one point and ending up with nothing.
Gary McCann made two changes to the starting XI that beat Harlow Town a week before with Matt Ball and the injured Daniel Uchechi missing out.
Oliver Sprague, in a wide left midfield role, and Kezie Ibe stepped up from the substitutes bench, whilst Ashley Nathaniel-George joined the fit again Casey Maclaren and Michael Corcoran on the bench.
The visitors, giving their new dark blue away shirt a first airing, began brightly and went close on six minutes when Sprague stood a ball up to the edge of the six-yard box from the byline and Zak Joseph rose highest to meet the ball but was just unable to direct his header under the angle of post and bar.
A few moments later, the first of many dangerous deliveries from Regent dead balls saw a near post header flash not far over Tom Lovelock’s crossbar.
Clearcut chances were few and far between in the first period, but both sides fashioned reasonable half chances.
Ibe latched on to a beautifully judged long pass from Rian Bray beyond the last defender, but the angle was beyond the centre forward and his shot skewed across the face of goal and harmlessly wide of Sam Cowler’s far post.
Dave Diedhiou, who won more than his fair share of aerial battles throughout the afternoon, then sent a header from Keagan Cole’s corner goalbound, but the alert Ricky Griggs reacted quickly a yard off his goal-line to head the danger clear.
At the other end, a failure to clear saw Billy Hunt left with a clear sight of goal and he unleashed a low snap-shot which Tom Lovelock react brilliantly to block, and then pounce upon the loose ball down to his right.
Hunt also missed the target dragging a left-footed shot wide of Lovelock’s far post from distance as the hosts settled into the game.
Hendon came out with all guns blazing after the break as they looked to get their noses in front and their passing was crisper and they were a yard sharper than they had been in the first period.
Only a quite outstanding sprawling block by the impeccable James Love denied Joseph’s shot at goal within the first five minutes – after Jake Gould had produced a similarly excellent intervention just as Niko Muir had pulled the trigger.
After weathering the storm for the first 10 minutes or so of the half, Regent began to get on top and Kevin Coyle sent a hooked left footed effort not far over the top - although it was a close enough effort to have Lovelock scrambling backwards.
Then Hunt’s excellent run and low cutback evaded everyone and Hendon were able to clear the danger.
hat was the first key moment of the game came with about 25 minutes remaining when Ibe, showing typical close control inside the penalty area, duped Gould into going to ground and clipping the forward’s ankle.
The referee was excellently placed to award the spot-kick to little protest from the home side, but with Ball absent and removed from spot-kick duties anyway following his miss against Tonbridge, Muir resumed duties following his miss in pre-season against VCD Athletic.
But there appeared to be a lack of conviction in his body language as he ran up and Muir missed the target by a good three feet, sending the ball sailing into the gardens behind Cowler’s goal.
Four minutes later, the hosts had the lead and in bizarre circumstances as Hunt headed a cross across Tom Lovelock but Arthur Lee was well positioned to stop the ball from crossing the line.
Chesting the ball down, the Hendon skipper put his left foot through it in an attempt to clear his lines, shanked his clearance and could only look on aghast as he leathered it against Hunt’s body and it bounced beyond the startled Lovelock into the net.
Hendon reacted in the best way possible, by getting back on terms within 60 seconds, as Joseph got the better of Gould for the first time down the right flank and drilled a cross that beat Cowler’s dive and Keagan Cole arriving at pace was able to turn the ball into the net from close range.
After that, the better chances fell Hendon’s way as Joseph worked himself some space for a rare clear sight of goal after good work by Cole, but rushed his shot and Cowler was able to make a comfortable save.
Casey Maclaren then met a Diedhiou flick-on with a header, yet someone somehow managed to block it a yard from the line.
The visitors were made to pay a minute into added time when Regent substitute Phil Kelly received a ball about 22 yards from goal and sent a sumptuous lofted volley over the frantically backpedalling Lovelock and into the net.
The strike provoked bedlam amongst the home supporters and despite some desperate Hendon pressure, the hosts never looked like relinquishing the advantage this time and comfortably held on for a first ever win at Isthmian Premier Division level.
Hendon: Lovelock, Eggleton (Maclaren 83), Murphy, Diedhiou, Bray, Lee, Cole, Sprague (Corcoran 64), Ibe (Nathaniel-George 65), Muir, Joseph. Unused subs: Stanislaus, Currie.