Home defeat means Hendon lost out on play-off spot
Hendon 1 Wealdstone 2 HENDON S centenary season ended in despair at Claremont Road on Saturday when they lost their must-win clash with Wealdstone that would have booked their premier play-off spot in the Rymans League. The Dons had overcome a spat
Hendon 1 Wealdstone 2
HENDON'S centenary season ended in despair at Claremont Road on Saturday when they lost their must-win clash with Wealdstone that would have booked their premier play-off spot in the Rymans League.
The Dons had overcome a spate of poor displays in late December to burst into the play-off zone.
Gary McCann's outfit also had ample motivation, following their heartbreaking 3-2 London Senior Cup cup final defeat to Tooting and Mitcham in midweek.
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But the Dons defeat on Saturday left them with just 65 points to end up three points, and two places, adrift of fifth-placed Ramsgate, who clinched the final play-off spot.
"I can't praise the players enough," said boss McCann.
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"We had seven fit players in 17 we named today and they simply had nothing left to give. But they still battled on to the very end. I am so proud of them."
Hendon began brightly against the Stones and narrowly failed to score in the opening minutes when Belal Aiteouakrim attempted a spectacular volley from six yards, but the visitors' keeper was up to it and pushed the ball wide.
The home side continued to press forward, but although enjoying the bulk of possession, were continually unable to grab the opening goal while the visitors, with their confidence increasing, started to threaten.
However, the scoreline remained tied at half-time, but in the second half Wealdstone continued to raise the tempo and took the lead when they were awarded a penalty after one of their players was fouled in the box after a re-taken free-kick.
Dean Papali slotted the ball home, despite keeper Richard Wilmot going the right way.
Hendon rallied and came close to equalising when Sam Page hit a post. But Wealdstone, who were now in control, stepped up the pressure.
And the visitors' efforts were rewarded in the 83rd minute when substitute Nick Salapatas got his foot to a cross inside the box and netted for a match-winning 2-0 lead.
Yet, Hendon, with their promotion hopes in tatters, kept on and restored a little pride when Belal Aiteouakrim netted in the 90th minute.
Hendon: Wilmot, Hudson (Hudell, 82), Burgess, Leach, S Page, Busby (I Guentchev, 69), L Guentchev, D Haule (B. Haule, 36), Dyer, Aiteouakrim, J Page, Maclaren, Blackmore.