Southern League: Taunton Town 3 Hendon 3
PUBLISHED: 16:32 26 August 2018 | UPDATED: 16:32 26 August 2018
Hendon maintained their unbeaten start to life in their new surroundings by returning from their second trip to Somerset in the space of a fortnight with another valuable point under their belts.
As with the visit to Frome, they were denied all three by a late equaliser after a pulsating encounter against a strong Taunton Town side that was a fabulous advert for the Southern League.
There was a single change to the starting line-up with Cole Brown dropping to the bench and being replaced by Ricardo German, Taishan Griffith dropped a little deeper into midfield alongside Laste Dombaxe and Luke Tingey with Steph Ngamvoulou occupying a spot narrow on the left of the midfield four.
On a sunny and mild day that wasn’t without a breeze, the Greens started strongly with a succession of dead-ball deliveries that caused panic in the Taunton penalty area. Guri Demuria was denied his first Hendon goal by a very smart reaction save from Lloyd Irish in the first couple of minutes.
It was no surprise when the Greens took the lead in the seventh minute. Morgan was, once again, the architect, beating his marker down the inside right channel and cutting the ball across the penalty area, taking Irish out of the equation.
The ball arrived at the waiting feet of German, who once again showed his goal-poaching instincts by coolly slamming the ball home from eight yards beyond the desperate attempts of a couple of defenders to prevent the goal.
The concession shook Taunton out of their early stuopor. They reacted with the beginnings of a bombardment of the Hendon penalty area that often threatened to become, but never materialised, into a siege.
Danny Boness made a smart low save from a powerful Ryan Brett effort, A couple of minutes later, a header from a corner was hacked clear by Romario Jonas as it looked to be heading in.
At the midpoint of the half, Boness saved well again low down after neat interplay down the Taunton right saw Matt Wright denied. The same player was denied three minutes later when he planted a free header straight at Boness, and the lively Ollie Chamberlain was unable to direct a half-volley on target from a good position a minute later.
The visiting side continued to threaten on the break, with Morgan holding the ball up and running the channels well and Laste Dombaxe in particular working hard to get up in support.
The clearer openings continued to come at the other end and only a magnificent covering challenge from Taishan Griffith on Andrew Neal denied the Taunton number 11 a clear run at goal after Boness had struggled to deal with a long through ball outside his penalty area.
Hendon extended their lead 10 minutes before the break thanks to a super counter-attack. Dombaxe carried the ball deep into Taunton territory before slipping it through for German, who dummied a defender before stroking the ball effortlessly into the net for his and Hendon’s second of the afternoon.
The key for the visiting team was to maintain the blank sheet until half time – indeed, they almost extended their advantage into potentially unassailable territory two minutes after their second goal. A cute Lee Chappell free-kick was glanced on by Demuria, however his header was desperately deflected wide by a defending body for a corner.
Unfortunately for James Gray’s men, the Taunton pressure eventually told four minutes before the break when WRIGHT sent a downward free header at the far post beyond Boness to reduce the arrears. The Hendon goalkeeper needed treatment after colliding with the post, however was okay to continue after a minute or so.
The half ended with Dombaxe and Dan Sullivan seeing yellow for an outbreak of handbags and maypole dancing, a member of the Taunton coaching staff also saw yellow for something untoward said towards the assistant on that side.
Where the first half had begun in a frenzy of action, the opening stages of the second period were more sedate. The first goalmouth action saw Wright just unable to connect with a lovely cross from Sullivan at the far most and then Boness was called into action again to push a powerful 25-yard effort from Chamberlain around the post at full stretch.
Eleven minutes into the half, the Greens regained their two-goal advantage, a strike that owed much to the strength and persistence of Morgan and German, and an excellent advantage played by the referee.
Morgan was fouled by Keith Emmerson before managing to find German, who also appeared to be impeded outside the penalty area. Instead of going down, the striker merely shrugged off Ben Adelsbury and fired a super low strike beyond Irish into the bottom corner of the net to complete a superb hat-trick.
Taunton began to ramp up the pressure once again, but the two central defenders for Hendon, Jonas and Demuria gave as good as they got against the onslaught. After appeals for handball against Tingey had been waved away as he blocked a cross, the arrears were reduced for a second time in the 66th minute.
Wright chested the ball down inside the area into the path of Dan Sullivan, and he fired a brilliant strike into the top corner of the net. Boness had less than no chance of keeping the strike out.
A minute after the goal, Hendon were denied a fourth goal by another superb reaction save from Irish. Cole Brown, who had come on for German, did brilliantly to find Dombaxe, but the midfielder’s effort was saved by Irish when the ball seemed to be behind the Taunton goalkeeper.
The final 20 minutes saw a succession of Taunton attacks founder either on the Hendon defence or, when they were breached, the excellent Boness. He held on to a howitzer of a strike from Sullivan after he once again got on the end of a Wright knock-down before Brett shot just wide from the edge of the box after good build-up play this time by Sullivan.
Boness then denied Craig Veal with a brilliant tip over after excellent work down the right hand side by Shaun White and at the other end, sub Dylan Kearney, who had just replaced Morgan, had strong shouts for a penalty waved away with eight minutes remaining after he appeared to be wrestled to the ground by Emmerson with the ball a couple of yards away.
With Hendon aiming to kill the game at every opportunity to protect their lead it was no surprise when a minimum of six additional minutes were signalled at the end of the 90 – a signal which saw Taunton ramp up the pressure even further.
A corner was headed narrowly over the top at the far post, then a sizzling left-footed volley from distance looked to have beaten Boness, but Chappell produced an incredible clearance on the run.
As the game ticked into the final minute of the six, the ball bounced up in the penalty area and struck Howard Hall on the hand. It was desperately unfortunate for Hall as his hand was neither in an unnatural position, nor did it move towards to the ball.
However, the referee’s rationale was that without the intervention the ball would have found a Taunton forward and so he had no option but to award the spot kick. Wright took responsibility and although Boness not only went the right way but also got firm contact on the ball which squeezed itself under his body and up into the roof of the net for the equaliser.
Twenty seconds after the restart the referee brought a thrilling match to a close in which the point apiece was the right results but didn’t stop Hendon fans thinking about what might have been.
Hendon: Boness, Hall, Chappell, Tingey, Jonas, Demuria, Ngamvoulou, Dombaxe, Morgan (Kearney 81), German (Brown 62), Griffith (Newman 85). Unused subs: Hunte, Boyce.