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Leon Smith nets late winner as Hendon earn home win over Bognor Regis Town

17:56 25 February 2014

Hendon manager Gary McCann. Pic: Andrew Aleksiejczuk

Hendon manager Gary McCann. Pic: Andrew Aleksiejczuk

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Leon Smith scored an 87th-minute winner as Hendon snatched a late 1-0 home win over Bognor Regis Town at Earlsmead on Monday evening.

The Dons created the first chance as Rocks keeper Grant Smith saved from Dave Diedhiou but, at the other end, a Hendon pass hit the referee and gifted Kane Wills with a shot at goal, forcing Joe McDonnell into a low but comfortable stop.

The end-to-end nature of the game continued, with the Greens’ Lee O’Leary firing inches wide and Bognor’s Nick Awford delivering a low cross which McDonnell had to deal with.

Casey Maclaren headed over for the home side, and Anthony Thomas should have given them the lead in the 32nd minute, firing wide, before Murray shot over from 20 yards.

Hendon continued to threaten after the break as Grant Smith saved from Thomas, who was then denied by a superb tackle from Dan Kempson in the box.

With tiredness setting in and the defences on top, the game seemed to be heading for a stalemate – but with 10 minutes left, Bognor created a rare, clear opening for their leading scorer Terry Dodd, but McDonnell made a brave block.

Seven minutes later, Rocks keeper Grant Smith took no chances with an effort from substitute and debutant Jose Figura, pushing the ball away for a corner – and when the set piece came into the box, it struck former Wingate & Finchley striker Leon Smith and looped into the net to secure a dramatic victory.

Greens boss Gary McCann said: “There are a quite a few players who were playing their fourth game in nine days.

“It was a difficult game for both teams and I am so proud of the effort put in by my team – they are putting their bodies on the line and it shows where the dressing room is at. The whole squad is really together at the moment.

“I felt it was a one-goal game – both teams try to do things the right way, but neither had a Plan B. It was a very interesting game and although it was end-to-end, there weren’t a huge number of chances.

“Both back-fours defended did well and I thought our middle two in both defence and midfield were outstanding.

“We weren’t as good in the second half as we had been in the first, but that was probably a bit of tiredness creeping in.”

Hendon: McDonnell, Seeby, Bennett, C. Maclaren, Fisher, K. Maclaren, Bryan (Figura, 80), O’Leary, Thomas, Murray (L. Smith, 68), Diedhiou (Taggart, 69). Unused subs: M. McCann, Flegg.

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