Southern League: Hendon 1 Metropolitan Police 1
PUBLISHED: 18:00 14 August 2019
Hendon 1 Metropolitan Police 1
Hendon were, once again, denied all three points by a late goal at Silver Jubilee Park on Tuesday night.
The goal, four minutes from the end of normal time, had come only six after the Greens had taken the lead and - it must be said - the 1-1 draw with Metropolitan Police was absolutely the right result.
The same 16 on duty at Weston-Super-Mare filled the teamsheet for the Greens' Southern League Premier Division South home opener and the only change was the debut given to Tahjae Anderson, who came on for Connor Calcutt near the end.
Last season, the Blues beat the Greens three times, the last being 3-0 at Imber Court in January, but these were two very different teams. Only three of Hendon 16 that day remained: Howard Hall, Luke Tingey and Calcutt, and four from the Police: Jeremy Arthur, Alex Fisher, Ollie Knight and Jack Mazzone.
The first half was played at great pace and the game flowed from end to end. Hendon probably shaded the possession and opportunities stats, but the Police had probably the clearer openings.
In the eighth minute Tom Hamblin had a header from a corner that produced a slightly slow reaction from Charlie Burns, but the goalkeeper, at full stretch, not only palmed the ball away, but also to an untenanted part of the penalty area. Lucas Ness had the difficult task of arresting the progress of Kam English, and the forward proved to be the most dangerous forward in the match.
At the other end, Jack Mazzone, a Hendon London Senior Cup final winner and goalscorer in 2012, was having night of near misses. Twice the ball came to him good positions, but a combination of Tingey and Hamblin denied him the chance to give Chris Grace a problem.
Both Matty Harriott and Ryan Hope had shooting opportunities, but they failed to put them on target, while Charlie Smith saw his shot flash inches over Burns' crossbar. When the Blues attacked, Rudy Allen and Olli Knight created good openings but neither Mazzone nor Sean McCormack could capitalise.
Just before half-time, McCormack was guilty of a bad mad miss as he rose to meet a header at the far post. Good contact would surely have brought a goal, but the ball rather glanced off his forehead and Grace, coming across his goal, was grateful that the ball went wide of the post.
A minute later, Calcutt was guilty of a similarly profligate waste of a chance. He had lost his marked when a cross came over, but he could only direct his header directly at Burns, who made a regulation save.
Two minutes into the second half, Knight nearly opened the scoring with a rasping drive from 25 yards out. Grace, however, produced an excellent save.
Once more the action switched to the bottom of the slope as English dispossessed Arthur and had a clear run at goal.
The former Marlow man had more time than he realised and his rushed shot went over the crossbar.
Ten minutes after the interval, Mazzone did well to control a pass, jink one way, then another and fire off a shot. Although on target it was close enough to Grace for the goalkeeper to pull off a save.
Calcutt then had two chances in four minutes. Just before the hour mark, he found himself in space and shot at goal. The ball appeared to take a deflection, which made Burns' save better.
But the striker really should have done better when the Greens' harrying of the Police's not so thin blue line produced reward. English had a chance to shoot, but saw Calcutt in a better position.
With Burns out of position and defenders struggling to get back, Calcutt took his time to take aim and a brilliant defensive block diverted the ball away from the goal. The importance of the opening goal was clear, but Calcutt was probably a tad too deliberate in setting up his strike and allowed the defender to get back.
Such was the cagey nature of the game that neither manager felt the need to make a change in personnel until the final 20 minutes. Hendon's first change saw Luca Vaelntine, replacing Lee Chappell. Almost at the same time, ex-Green Bilal Sayoud took over from McCormack.
The breakthrough came in the 80th minute. A Hendon attack down the right side was half-repelled and the ball was then sent out to the left wing, where English had moved when the substitution was made.
He did well, with limited space, to get past Ness, and deliver a cross into the heart of the danger area. CALCUTT, involved earlier in the build-up, arrived late on the scene and with neither Arthur nor Robinson close enough, the striker rose and headed powerfully past Burns.
Before play resumed, Hani Bernouche took over from Kai Hamilton, strengthening the Blues' front line, but leaving their midfield a little lighter in numbers. And they were almost made to pay for their gamble when Valentine almost opened his Hendon account. His header went inches wide of the post with the goalkeeper unable to reach the ball.
A second goal would, almost certainly have sealed all three points. Instead, with four minutes of normal time on the clock, the Blues equalised.
Hendon conceded a free-kick in a dangerous position. Allen played the ball into the middle of the penalty area and the Hendon clearance sent the ball out towards their right back position.
No one was able to get across to cover quickly enough and when the ball went back towards the six-yard box, a couple of green shirts tried to clear the danger, while a pair in blue tried to ram the ball into the net. Eventually, the ball fell to ARTHUR, and he was able to level the scores.
Hendon immediately sent on Anderson to take over from Calcutt as the game became even more stretched. In the four minutes of additional time, Hendon did well to survive a big scare.
The Greens could not clear a set piece and two or three attacking efforts were blocked before the ball went to the edge of the area. Waiting was a Blues player, with time and space to control the ball and shoot, he put too much on it and the ball whistled over the crossbar.
Team: Grace, Hall, Smith, Corcoran, Hamblin, Tingey, Hope, Harriott, Calcutt (Anderson, 87), English, Chappell (Valentine, 73). Unused subs: Abdollahi, McGleish, Huxter (GK).