Southern League: Taunton Town 3 Hendon 3
PUBLISHED: 12:41 05 March 2020 | UPDATED: 12:44 05 March 2020
Hendon returned from their longest ever midweek league away trip (168 miles each way) with a hard won and thoroughly deserved point against play-off chasers Taunton Town.
With Tommy Brewer missing through injury, Sam Corcoran and Kieron Forbes through work commitments and Liam Brooks through illness, manager Lee Allinson was forced to shuffle his pack and shape.
Luke Tingey, Percy Kiangebeni and Luca Allinson came in to the side as Allinson senior shifted to a back three of Tingey, skipper for the day Eddie Oshodi and Lucas Perry, with Simeon Olalerin and Joe Howe and right and left wing-back respectively.
The opening quarter of the game saw both sides trying to get the ball down on a wet and heavy, but perfectly playable surface, yet without creating a clear-cut opportunity. Indeed, credit must go to the Taunton ground staff who worked relentlessly in the run up to kick-off to ensure the game was able to go ahead.
The hosts went ahead on 22 minutes when the ball fell to Harry Kite on the edge of the Hendon penalty area. His powerful effort seemed to surprise Jonathan North in the Hendon goal and beat his dive on its way into the net.
Hendon's response was immediate, equalising within two minutes when neat build-up play down the right flank worked the ball to Luca Allinson. His shot from just outside the penalty area was powerful and on target yet took a deflection off the shin of Nick Grimes which left Taunton keeper Lloyd Irish wrong-footed.
The away side then dominated the next quarter of an hour or so with Percy Kiangebeni, Allinson and Solomon Sambou having total control of the midfield and the two wing-backs getting forward to support.
Shaun Lucien, in a more central role, carried menace and Joe White never gave the home centre-backs a chance to settle.
The second goal came just past the half hour mark when Kiangebeni did extremely well to keep the ball alive when the chance of a shot appeared to have gone and he fed White.
The striker took a touch and hammered a strike beyond Irish and off the underside of the crossbar into the net for his eighth goal of the year.
Two became three a few minutes later when Lucien hit a trademark thunderbolt from the edge of the penalty area. The ball rebounded off the crossbar and fell for Olalerin, who worked himself the angle for a shot.
Although he scuffed his effort, some mud flew off his boot and seemed to distract Irish who allowed the ball to tamely bounce over his leg as he fell backwards and roll into the net.
The half ended with the hosts laying siege to the Hendon goal. One effort from a right-wing cross was turned wide of the near post whilst on the stroke of half-time North produced a quite magnificent save at point blank range to maintain Hendon's two-goal advantage.
Taunton shifted their shape at the break to match Hendon's three at the back and provided them with the extra width that would provide the visitors with a stern defensive examination after the break.
Tingey, Perry and Oshodi were outstanding in protecting North and the first clear opportunity fell to Hendon on the break.
Kiangebeni led a counter-attack and did well to find White in space inside the penalty area. The deadly striker took aim and fired low, yet Irish did well to get an outstretched boot to the ball as he dived the other way and deflect it away for a corner. That save would prove pivotal.
As the second half approached its midway point Taunton's incessant pressure finally paid dividends when a cross into the penalty area was knocked down and Matthew Wright, who scored twice for the hosts in the corresponding 3-3 draw last season, swept the ball into the bottom corner of the net to reduce the arrears.
Dan Sullivan then went into the book for a robust challenge on Simeon Olalerin that incensed surrounding Hendon players - North was also cautioned for something he said to the official - before Eddie Oshodi had his name taken for a late challenge just inside the Hendon half.
Oshodi was involved in an incident shortly afterwards with Irish, who went down as he tried to release the ball having claimed a corner claiming that Oshodi had illegally baulked him.
The referee waved away the goalkeeper's appeals (Oshodi's only crime had been to turn his back on Irish and try and get back into his defensive position) yet the goalkeeper continued to remonstrate with the official for some 45 seconds without sanction.
The equaliser came nine minutes from time after more intense home pressure, a cross from the right-wing found Wright unmarked eight yards or so from goal and he directed a trademark centre-forward's header into the back of the net to bring about parity.
Shortly afterwards White latched onto a ball inside the Taunton penalty area, nicked the ball past Irish and went down under the challenge of Irish. The official gave a goal kick.
Similarly strong penalty shouts at the other end were also waved away before a Hendon break where Lucien was looking to latch onto a ball just inside the Taunton half was ended unceremoniously by a challenge more suited to Twickenham than Taunton, again appeals were waved away.
The tiring visitors managed to withstand further Taunton pressure in the closing stages whilst still carrying a threat on the break to secure a valuable and thoroughly deserved share of the spoils.
Hendon: North, Howe, Perry, Kiangebeni, Tingey, Oshodi, Lucien, Sambou, White, Luca Allinson (Clarke 66), Olalerin, Unused subs: Gabriel, Lee Allinson.
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