Bostik Premier: Folkestone Invicta 3 Hendon 2
PUBLISHED: 17:36 25 September 2017
Hendon's good start to the season was baulked on Saturday afternoon as they threw away a two-goal lead at the Fullicks Stadium.
With both sides enjoying good starts following struggles last season, the game promised much and whilst the second half delivered plenty, the first half delivered little.
After an 11-day gap without a competitive game, Hendon made a few changes with Jake Eggleton returning in place of the suspended Dave Diedhiou.
Josh Walker was rewarded with a first start and Ashley Nathaniel-George a second, as they took their places on either flank whilst Zak Joseph tucked inside to play off Niko Muir.
Michael Corcoran, who limped off early at Dulwich, was fit to start at the heart of the Hendon midfield, but Casey Maclaren, whose injury flared up in the dying moments at Dulwich, was unfit, so Matt Ball started in his place as Keagan Cole and Kezie Ibe dropped to the bench,
The first period was a scrappy affair with the referee’s whistle punctuating proceedings on a regular basis.
Chances were few and far between, but Tom Lovelock was forced into a fine low stop midway through the period to prevent the hosts taking the lead through Joe Taylor and Corcoran did well to smother the rebound and allow Lovelock to gather the loose ball.
In spite of the paucity of chances, both sides did look threatening and the physical Taylor and nippy Ade Yussuf gave Arthur Lee and Rian Bray plenty of problems, whilst the pacy trio of Joseph, Nathaniel-George and Walker linked up well with Muir, albeit to little effect in terms of chances created.
The game remained goalless at the break, but really sprang to life with three goals in the first six minutes of the second period.
Firstly, a free-kick from Matt Ball was half-blocked by the wall but the ball found its way to in-form Muir who took a touch and saw his shot beat Tim Roberts at the far post.
Within two minutes, the lead had been extended and once again, it was Muir who netted to take his tally into double figures for the season, finishing off an outstanding move.
After an intervention by Eggleton had stopped a Folkestone attack, the ball was worked on to Ball, who passed wide to Nathaniel-George for him to skip inside two challenges and slip the ball inside to Joseph who played in Muir.
After turning this way and that to work some space, Muir slipped the ball beyond Roberts to give the Greens a scarcely credible 2-0 cushion.
However, within another two minutes the hosts were right back in contention as a long free-kick into the Hendon box saw Lovelock punch the ball out for a corner and, when ball was played in, Folkestone’s Joe Taylor went flying and the referee pointed to the spot.
Yussuf stepped up to send Lovelock the wrong way and reduce the arrears.
The next 20 minutes was quite an end-to-end affair, yet with the clearer opportunities falling Hendon’s way.
Muir sent Roberts the wrong way but saw his effort go just wide of the post before lashing another effort into the side netting at the near post.
Josh Walker did well to cut inside from the left, beat a challenge and fire a snapshot that beat Roberts all ends up but the ball thumped against the base of the post and was cleared to safety.
Lovelock then made a fine save to maintain Hendon’s lead when a headed knock-back was met by Sam Hasler, whose powerful effort was superbly repelled by the goalkeeper plunging to his right.
Moments later, Lovelock’s opposite number made an equally fine intervention, at full stretch falling to his right to palm Joseph’s powerful effort over the top.
With 20 minutes remaining, the catalogue of missed chances came home to roost for the Greens as two failures to clear a left-wing cross ended with Josh Vincent meeting the ball on the run to power a rasping, rising drive beyond Lovelock and into the roof of the net to bring about parity.
Both sides continued to give everything in pursuit of a winner and with four minutes remaining, the vital goal was secured when a cross from the right found Taylor unmarked at the far post, and he planted his header emphatically beyond Lovelock to seal the points for the home team.
In spite of Hendon’s best efforts in the closing stages, there was to be no late goal this time despite the introduction of Malachy McGovern, Cole and Ibe.
And the Greens were once again left to rue a lack of efficiency in front of goal as they came away empty handed from an away match from which they should have got something.
Hendon: Lovelock, Eggleton, Sprague, Corcoran (McGovern 87), Bray, Lee, Walker (Cole 77), Ball, Joseph (Ibe 89), Muir, Nathaniel-George. Unused subs: Rogers-Oben, Pedro.