Southern League: Hendon 0 Hartley Witney 2
PUBLISHED: 13:00 25 March 2019
Hendon paid a huge price for an afternoon of ill-discipline, mentally and physically, as they suffered a 2–0 home defeat against Hartley Wintney and finished the game with nine men.
Many of the key moments of the match came after things didn’t go Hendon’s way, but that cannot be an excuse.
There were two changes to the starting line-up, with Howard Hall and Romario Jonas coming in for Bayley Brown and Matty Harriott. There were also a few positional changes, but, from the opening minute, it was clear they weren’t working.
In his post-match interview manager Jimmy Gray admitted his choice of Hall had backfired as the full-back was given a torrid time by Salhin Abubaker.
In the first minute, Hall was caught in possession but the Row could not take advantage.
Within two minutes, Hendon should have gone behind when a ball over the top of the defence released Michael Campbell. With only Andy McCorkell to beat, Campbell mishit his shot and directed the ball straight at the goalkeeper, who was grateful to make the save.
One of the differences between the two teams was hunger in the penalty area. In the sixth minute, Luke Tingey fired a goalbound shot which was blocked, but there were two orange shirts to complete the clearance before a Hendon player could react to the loose ball.
In the 17th minute, Hendon fell behind as Hall fouled Abubaker and, Row had multiple chances to take the lead, including efforts which hit the underside of the crossbar and another cleared off the line.
This rebound fell to a Hartley Wintney player, whose shot was blocked and when the ball fell to Mitchell Parker, he made no mistake.
Three attempts had bounced around the Hendon goal area, and on no occasion did a green-shirted player come close to clearing the danger.
Hendon did come close to getting an immediate equaliser, but Charlie Smith’s effort was tipped against the crossbar by Paul Strudley. In the scramble that followed, a Row defender always seemed to be in the right place.
In the 22nd minute, Hendon made a change, replacing Hall with Bayley Brown as Jacob Gardiner-Smith dropped back into the right-back role.
“It was my decision,” admitted Gray, “and I take responsibility for it.
“Howie hadn’t played for a few weeks and I thought was an ideal opportunity for him. He was lacking a bit of match sharpness and I have got to shoulder the blame for this.”
In the 33rd minute, Ryan Hope made a powerful run out of midfield and passed to Smith, whose low cross was met by Connor Calcutt, but he failed to make good contact and the ball bobbled into the arms of Strudley.
Almost immediately, Hartley Wintney made a strong break down the right and when the ball fell to Nathan Smart, he struck a powerful shot which went high and wide of the target.
The next key moment came a couple of minutes later from a Hendon corner, as the ball was half-cleared to Sergio Manesio, who tried to play the ball back into the danger area, having taken a headed touch.
A Row player charged down the ball using his arm, according to Hendon players who had the right angle to see it and immediately appealed for handball. The referee was on the wrong side, so didn’t see anything and the ball was quickly ferried towards the other end.
When the ball was flicked on, two Hartley Wintney players appeared to be in offside positions, but the assistant referee kept down his flag. McCorkell came off his line but his clearance, under pressure, hit one of the three Row players in the vicinity. In trying to rectify his mishit, McCorkell brought down the orange-shirted player.
It was a clear goalscoring opportunity and the red card which followed was almost inevitable, even if a defender had got behind the goalkeeper. After some debate, skipper Lee Chappell took over the goalkeeper’s shirt and just about kept out the resulting free-kick.
Seven minutes before half-time, Hendon forced another goalmouth scramble and a couple of efforts were cleared from close to the line, but, again, no home player was on hand to deliver the decisive strike.
In the last minute of the half another Hartley Wintney raid gave Campbell a chance almost identical to the one he faced in the third minute. On this occasion, Campbell went for power and his shot cleared the crossbar by a couple of feet.
Seven minutes after the restart the game was pretty much decided as Marley Ridge released Louie Paget down the left the side and he delivered a cross which picked out the unmarked Campbell, who headed the ball beyond Chappell.
Hendon were very unhappy the goal was allowed claiming Manesio had been given a two-handed shove in the build-up to the goal, an incident unseen by the officials.
With 20 minutes to go, and little seen from either team in terms of dangerous attacks since the second goal, Hendon made their second change as Harriott came on for Manesio, giving the Greens more of an attacking edge, though Calcutt continued to plough a lone furrow up front.
A minute later, Hippolyte-Patrick was brought down five yards outside the penalty area. Smith took responsibility for the free-kick, but Strudley made an excellent full-length save, tipping the ball over the crossbar.
The Row continued to cause problems when they made raids, with Campbell, Ridge, Abubaker and Parker finding holes in the Hendon defence. They fired in a few shots, most of which were off target, and those which would have brought a goal were comfortably saved by Chappell.
Nine minutes from the end, Hendon were awarded another free-kick in a dangerous position and Smith’s effort took a big deflection but Strudley produced another good save to deny the Greens a lifeline back into the game.
The end of the game was very scrappy and filled with challenges which could have led to more bookings, before the assistant saw an off-the-ball incident involving Harriott.
After some discussion between the referee and his assistant, Harriott was shown a red card. He claimed he had been attacked first, an incident unseen by the officials, but his second red card of the season will see him miss the next four matches.
It was the last thing that Hendon needed going into the final half-dozen games of the season and Gray noted: “A calamitous afternoon, from start to finish. We just weren’t at the races. I am disappointed, really disappointed, and the boys in the dressing room are disappointed.
“We gave ourselves an uphill task out there. It is another game out of the way, but it is another we haven’t picked anything up from. The self destruct button was pushed.”
Hendon: McCorkell, Hall (Brown 22), Chappell, Manesio (Harriott 71), Tingey, Jonas (Obi 90), Hope, Gardiner-Smith, Calcutt, Hippolyte-Patrick, Smith. Unused subs: Sayoud, Toomey.