Bostik Premier: Hendon 3 Dulwich Hamlet 3
PUBLISHED: 15:43 22 November 2017 | UPDATED: 15:43 22 November 2017
Hendon were denied all three points, and a double over the current leaders Dulwich Hamlet, when Rickie Hayles scored with almost the last kick of the match on Tuesday.
The Greens made three changes from the team which had snatched a late point against Burgess Hill Town, with Jake Eggleton, Casey Maclaren and Ashley Nathaniel-George taking over from Channing Campbell-Young, Matt Ball and Michael Corcoran, the latter two dropping to the bench.
Maclaren also took the captain’s armband and the game started at a breathless pace and did not appear to drop off in its intensity for the whole of the first half.
Dulwich had the first chance, the ball coming from the left to Sanchez Ming, but his shot from 25 yards took a deflection for a corner, which Hendon cleared without difficulty.
In the sixth minute, the Greens took the lead as Zak Joseph jinked inside Nathan Green and rolled a short pass to Niko Muir, who took the ball around Ibrahim Kargbo and, having created a shooting angle for himself, fired the ball across Preston Edwards and into the bottom corner for his 20th goal of the season.
Hamlet fought back and, in the 14th minute, drew level when a cross from the right side was angled into the penalty area and it seemed to elude almost everyone until Ashley Carew stole in and flicked his header past Tom Lovelock.
Parity lasted barely three minutes as Hendon fashioned a magnificent second goal.
Good approach play set up Joseph who curled a teasing cross into the penalty area where Dave Diedhiou arrived almost unnoticed and saw his flying diving header give Edwards no chance.
The midfielder has scored 39 goals for the club and while some have been more important, this one has rarely been bettered.
Dulwich were rocked by this goal and could not keep up with the pace and movement of the Hendon front three, with Dan Uchechi in the role of midfield playmaker rather than out and out winger.
When the men in pink did get forward, Maclaren and Diedhiou broke up most things, while Sam Murphy and Eggleton out wide and Rian Bray and Arthur Lee in the middle of the back four, ensured there was no end-product.
In the 26th minute, Hendon thought they had extended their lead when Muir got past Hayles, miscontrolled the ball, but had just enough pace and balance to direct the ball past the oncoming Edwards.
The assistant referee’s upraised flag for offside stilled the team’s celebrations; something the referee hadn’t seen until the ball was nestling in the net. Those in line with the decision had no doubt that Muir had run back into an onside position to reach the ball, having been offside when it was played forward.
Uchechi then tested Edwards with a powerful shot which the keeper got under control at the second attempt. At the other end, Lovelock made two superb interventions to gather crosses as the visiting forwards marauded in the penalty area.
Two minutes before half-time, Hendon got their thoroughly deserved third goal when once again the Hamlet defence was breached by a ball between Hayles and Kargbo.
Muir got to the ball and as he knocked it past Edwards, the sprawling goalkeeper’s legs were at knee height and Muir could not get over them.
The keeper feared the worst as the referee went for his notebook, but the card was yellow and not red. When it came to the penalty-kick, however, Edwards dived one way and Muir drilled the ball into the opposite corner.
Before the second half started, Dulwich made a change, sending on the attacking Muhammadu Faal to replace skipper Kenny Beaney, who had made little impression on the Greens.
The giant striker certainly beefed up the Hamlet forward line, but they were still chasing the game and, for the most part, it looked to be in a vain cause.
Hendon had the first chance after the restart with a free-kick awarded six yards outside the penalty area, just to the right of centre.
The wall was set up and Edwards took up a position just inside the left upright, so he was very grateful that Joseph’s shot struck the outside of the stanchion on the opposite side of the goal.
On the hour mark, Faal worked himself an opening and fired a powerful strike which Lovelock saved above his head. Seven minutes later, Dulwich had a free-kick in a very dangerous position but the Hendon goalkeeper was equal to the strike from Carew.
Hendon had penalty claims waved aside when Nathaniel-George jinked his way into the penalty area and was sent crashing to the ground. The fact he needed treatment before being able to continue suggests that the contact was with more than just the ball.
With 12 minutes remaining, Dulwich made their last two substitutions, as Anthony Acheampong and Michael Onouwigun replacedg Marc Weatherstone and Kargbo, respectively.
They also sent Hayles forward to add his considerable physical presence to the mix and got their lifeline in strange circumstances 10 minutes from time.
A ball into the penalty area seemed to need little effort from Diedhiou to make a clearance, but the wind made it a very challenging situation and the ball bounced off Diedhiou’s head, off his shoulder and rolled down his arm, where his hand slightly away from his body, then made contact.
The bank of visiting fans screamed for a penalty and the referee, after a moment’s hestitation, pointed to the spot.
Carew took responsibility for the spot-kick and blasted it into the net, galvanising Dulwich and raising doubts in Hendon minds.
Corcoran replaced Nathaniel-George, who had impressed throughout the evening, for the final three minutes, plus what was soon shown as four of additional time.
And in the first minute of stoppage time, Maclaren also went off, having played significantly longer than had been planned, but his performance was man-of-the-match standard. Keagan Cole came on for him.
The Greens had already once taken the ball into the corner and spent a good 30 seconds with possession in the least threatening of areas for their defence.
However, two other opportunities to do the same again were eschewed, the ball being sent into open space over the touchline.
The four minutes had expired, but play continued and Hendon had one last attack to defend. They could not do it, although there were two or three chances for the ball to be sent away towards the isolated Edwards, some 60 yards from any other player.
The ball bounced outside the penalty area, Hayles controlled it, shifted it to his favoured foot and curled a dipping shot over Lovelock into the roof of the net. There was barely time for the match to restart before the final whistle blew.
But what goes around comes around. When Hendon snatched their winner at Dulwich two months earlier, it had come in the fifth minute of four of stoppage time and that contest had been completely dominated by Hamlet.
Hendon: Lovelock, Eggleton, Murphy, Diedhiou, Bray, Lee, Uchechi, Maclaren (Cole 90+1), Joseph, Muir, Nathaniel-George (Corcoran 87). Unused subs: Wise, Ball, Ibe.