Southern League: Hendon 2 Salisbury City 2
PUBLISHED: 17:17 02 February 2019 | UPDATED: 08:26 03 February 2019
Super-sub Connor Calcutt rescued a point for Hendon with a last-minute equaliser at Silver Jubilee Park on Saturday.
Hendon produced a performance of great heart and desire and were rewarded with a 94th-minute equaliser to deny Salisbury all three points.
The 2–2 draw was just about the right result after an excellent afternoon of entertainment.
Groundstaff and helpers deserve enormous credit for their magnificent job in clearing the pitch and surrounding areas of snow to ensure that the game would go ahead, one of only three in the division to survive the wintry blast.
There were quite a few changes to the starting line-up for Hendon with Howard Hall and Bayley Brown dropping to the bench – neither were used – and Jacob Gardiner-Smith and Matty Harriott came in for them.
In defence, the suspended Romario Jonas was replaced by Darren Locke.
On a raw, cold and windy afternoon, Hendon started brightly and did well keeping the ball for long spells. Their reward came in the seventh minute.
Although a couple of Salisbury players may have diverted passes, the ball was knocked around the pitch until their probing picked out Charlie Smith, who sent Ryan Hope down the left wing.
His low cross bounced around the penalty area before falling to Shaquille Hippolyte-Patrick, who smashed the ball past James Hillson from 18 yards.
Hendon enjoyed a lot of success from set-pieces, but they failed to take a number chances that came their way.
Locke won a header, but put his effort over the crossbar after 17 minutes.
Salisbury gradually got into the game and Thomas Whelan fired a shot after 22 minutes, which Danny Boness pushed aside for a corner.
In the 35th minute, Lewis Benson struck a powerful drive which narrowly missed the far post.
Two minutes later, a headed clearance from Locke eluded Elliot Wheeler and, suddenly, Lewis Toomey had a clear run at goal.
Hillson was a little tentative coming off his line, but he was right not to dash forwards because Toomey’s touch was too hard and the goalkeeper was perfectly placed to block the ball away from danger.
In the first minute of first-half stoppage time a Salisbury corner was not dealt with and, with his back to goal, Daniel Fitchett somehow guided the ball just inside the far post to equalise.
That wasn’t the end of the drama in the half, because Hendon immediately went downfield and forced a corner.
Once again the visitors failed to deal with it, but Luke Tingey, unmarked and with almost the whole goal to aim at, somehow fired over the crossbar.
Five minutes into the second half, Salisbury had a chance when Bouwe Bosma had a great chance with a header from six yards out. Lee Chappell spotted the danger and did enough to put Bosma off – at the expense of an accidental knee in the back – and the ball looped gently into Boness’s arms.
Hendon’s response was immediate and Harriott had a very good shooting chance. However, he, too, was put under pressure and rather scuffed the shot straight to Hillson. Locke then put another header just over the crossbar.
In the 63rd minute, disaster struck for Hendon as Benson got the better of Chappell and delivered a teasing cross into the danger area.
Boness came off his line, but the ball was bent away from the goalkeeper and Fitchett, having got in front of Locke, guided the ball into the net.
In recent times, this would have been the signal for a Hendon collapse, but the recent new signings have added a mental steel to the line-up and physical strength too. Although Salisbury did have three good openings, their finishing was lacking and Boness was not forced into a remotely difficult save.
With 20 minutes to go, Connor Calcutt came on for Toomey and, within a minute, the Greens came close to getting an equaliser.
Hope cut in from the right side and curled a fierce left-foot shot which Hillson did well to tip over the crossbar.
Desperate to get something from the game, Hendon replaced defender Locke with attacker in Ogo Obi, giving them a three-man front line.
Hippolyte-Patrick had a trio of good runs but the final ball lacked the necessary accuracy or a defender got a boot in the way.
Salisbury had two excellent chances to make the game safe with free-kicks around the Hendon penalty area but Aaron Dawson’s first effort struck the defensive wall and went away for a corner.
Then, after Sergio Manesio had illegally stopped a Salisbury run a half-yard from the box Dawson tried to deceive Boness with a left-foot curler from an acute angle. The goalkeeper was perfectly positioned and he caught the ball comfortably.
The referee had told players that there were three minutes of additional time, but Salisbury took an absolute age to retrieve the ball for a goal-kick and make the substitution of Whelan with Darren Mullings.
Nonetheless, Salisbury seemed to have things under control as they had possession deep in the Hendon half on their right side.
But they could not keep the ball and the Greens were able to clear the danger.
They did so spectacularly well because suddenly Obi was attacking at pace down the Hendon right. As cover came over, Obi rolled the ball back into the path of the supporting Hippolyte-Patrick.
No defender was quick enough to close down the Hendon man and he delivered an excellent deep cross. Timing his run – and leap – perfectly was Calcutt and he sent a majestic header past Hillson into the net.
The Salisbury players questioned the referee about how much time had been added, but they had taken more than a minute to make their second change, plus other little bits of time-wasting.
In fact, there was time for the ball to be played just outside the centre-circle before the final whistle was blown.
For Hendon’s players, officials, management and supporters the celebrations were for a draw that felt much more like a win.
Manager Jimmy Gray posted on social media: “It has been a tough few months, but the lads dug deep and thoroughly deserved at least the draw against a very good Salisbury side who played their part in a very entertaining game.”
He also had a message for the staff who cleared the pitch to make it playable, adding: “Massive thank you to everyone for a massive effort to get today’s game on, lots that goes unseen but from myself, staff and players we salute you all. Hopefully you enjoyed the game.”
Salisbury boss Steve Claridge admitted that he was not that disappointed to have dropped those two points because of the way Hendon had competed throughout the match and that the Greens had been worthy of a draw.
This was the sixth time this season, however, that Salisbury had lost points to goals in second-half stoppage time.
Hendon: Boness, Gardiner-Smith, Smith, Tingey, Locke (Ogo Obi 82), Chappell, Hope, Manesio, Toomey (Calcutt 71), Hippolyte-Patrick, Harriott. Unused subs: Brown, Hall, Murphy-McVey.