Southern League: Hendon 2 Hartley Wintney 2
PUBLISHED: 19:12 23 December 2019 | UPDATED: 19:12 23 December 2019
Hendon scored early and late to earn a share of the points against fellow strugglers Hartley Wintney.
A Greens victory would have lifted them three places up the table and above the Row, but the draw did take them out of the bottom three.
There were two changes to the starting line-up from the team which had beaten Merthyr Town a fortnight earlier. Lucas Perry came in for Luke Tingey and Joe Felix replaced Keiron Forbes. Tingey dropped to the bench, where he was joined, for the first time, by Ando Georgiou.
If they wanted to make a fast start, Hendon could not have asked for more as a quick throw-in 10 yards inside the Greens half on the left side, saw the ball played forward to Kingsley Eshun.
The striker made a positive dart forward, past a couple of orange-shirted midfielders and played the ball out to the right, where Liam Brooks had space and crossed into the danger area for Eshun, continuing his run, to slide the ball into the net.
For the next 15 to 20 minutes, every Hendon attack brought serious menace.
Eshun had another shot, but it flew inches wide of the far post, Shaun Lucien tried to curl a shot from the left side, but he, too, was off target and then Tom Smith headed a corner which required a superb save from Luke Williams.
As the game passed the quarter point, Hartley Wintney began to get into it and a moment's hesitation resulted in Adam Cornell having a reasonable shooting chance.
Spotting Rihards Matrevics slightly off his line, Cornell tried to get the ball over the goalkeeper and under the bar, but succeeded only in his first attempt and the ball bounced harmlessly behind the goal.
Another couple of shots from the Row, again from long range, failed to trouble the tall goalkeeper, but the contest was distinctly more even.
When the Greens had the ball, Lucien gave Nathan Smart a hard time with his dangerous runs, but there was no end product to his endeavours.
A minute before half-time, Hendon forced a corner and the delivery picked out Smith who headed the ball into the net, but the referee disallowed the goal, having spotted Eshun pushing a defender who was trying to clear the danger.
Hartley Wintney made a change during the break, as Salhin Abubakar was replaced by Jack Ball, and also switched formation.
A minute into the half, Eshun appeared to dispossess Alexandru Albert, but he was adjudged to have fouled the centre-back. A couple of minutes later, Eshun was shown a yellow card for a foul on Ball, who nipped in front of him from his blindside.
When Eshun committed a third foul in less than 10 minutes, he received a very long lecture. To save him from a possible red card, Georgiou came on for his Hendon debut.
Although they were continuing to press, the Row had failed to put a single shot on, or even close to, the target in the first hour of the game. That changed spectacularly in just a couple of minutes.
You may also want to watch:
There didn't seem any danger in the 64th minute, as Tom Bird advance down the left wing and crossed but Matrevics suddenly started back-pedalling as the ball floated towards the far post.
It was too late. Although the goalkeeper stretched back as far as he could, he was unable to stop the ball as it dropped under the crossbar and just inside the far post.
Two minutes later, things went from bad to worse for the Greens as Joshua Webb, the former Harrow Borough midfielder, collected a pass just beyond the centre-circle and advanced towards the Hendon penalty area.
No defender came to close him down and although he was almost 30 yards from the goal, Webb fired off a powerful shot. Matrevics barely moved as the ball flew past him into the far corner. The Row, from trailing 1-0 were now 2-1 up.
Now chasing the game, Hendon sent on Kam English in place of Felix and went to a more attacking look. The prompting and probing from Tommy Brewer and Solomon Sambou didn't have the desired effect, mainly because Hartley Wintney's defensive line was barely a dozen yards their side of halfway.
Smith and Eddie Oshodi were still in control in the middle of the Hendon defensive end, but neither Lucas Perry nor Joe Howe were able to release the speed of Lucien or English into the danger areas, the ball being overhit on a multitude of occasions.
Credit must go to the Row for the way they managed the game. It was not pretty, but it was very effective, players receiving treatment, Williams taking an age to clear the ball after gathering long downfield passes, and generally slowing play down.
But once again, things changed suddenly, this time in Hendon's favour.
In the 85th minute, Georgiou tried a speculative 25-yard dipping shot. Williams might have been able to catch the shot, but he opted for the safety of tipping the ball over the crossbar.
The corner didn't come to much but the Hartley Wintney defence couldn't completely clear the danger. As a result, it was déjà vu and another powerful Georgiou drive. This time, however, the save from Williams was better and a catch not possible.
When the corner came in, two green shirts tried to get efforts on target, but the ball was blocked. As it bounced around in the penalty area, Oshodi took control and he whipped the ball into the net before a man in orange could intervene.
There was still plenty of time for the teams to get a third and probable winning goal. The strange thing was that after 40 second-half minutes of fairly equal cagey play, both teams went hell for leather after the three points.
Although there were no clear-cut openings, the two defences were stretched and play moved from end to end at pace.
Six minutes of advertised stoppage time became eight, mainly because both teams made their final changes, Reece Mitchell replacing Brooks and Louie Paget taking over from Ball.
The last attack came from Hartley Wintney and a pair of blocks led to a corner. The Greens rearguard remained firm and almost as soon as the ball was cleared towards halfway, the referee blew the final whistle.
Hendon: Matervics, Howe, Perry, Brewer, Smith, Oshodi, Lucien, Felix (English 69), Eshun (Georgiou 56), Sambouk, Brooks (Mitchell 90). Unused subs: Tingey, Jonas.