It was another disappointing away trip for the Rooks on Monday night as despite winning hands down in possession, they couldn’t convert their superiority and fell to two first half Hendon strikes reports Stuart Fuller.
Lloyd Cotton and Chris Winterton returned to the starting XI, whilst Miguel Baptista was given his first start with Alex Malins (dead leg), Harry Palmer and James Hammond (knock) made way. The attacking nature of the line-up was evident in the opening exchanges with The Rooks settling the better of the two sides, although some of the passing play was difficult due to the uneven surface. Steve Brinkhurst and Leon Redwood had teh freedom of the flanks and got behind the sluggish full-backs but failed to hit their men in the box. With twenty minutes gone, the pivotol moment of the game took place when referee Mellor, determined that Alex Laing had been fouled whilst running clear on goal, but was too far away from the action to make the right decision on who the offender was, issuing a yellow card to Casey MacLaren. The resultant free-kick failed to clear the wall.
The opening goal of the game was scored by Hendon in the 37th minute by Finbarr Robins who managed to sneak in the gap between Freeman and Brinkhurst, rolling the ball past Winterton into the far corner. Whilst the goal was harsh on the Rooks, they paid the price for not taking earlier chances. In injury time at the end of the first half Lewes failed to pick up MacLaren from a well worked corner and he smashed home the second – a harsh goal especially as the centre-back could have been sent off earlier in the half.
Lewes started the second half positively, forcing a number of corners but rarely troubling Joe Wright in the Hendon goal. Emotions were running high with both managers being spoken to by the referee after a flare up over the speed that balls were being returned, whilst a number of shouts for free-kicks on the edge of the box fell on deaf ears. The Rooks continued to press for a goal, bringing on Ben El-Mhanni and Street to add some attacting intent but as the game went on it looked more likely that the home side would add to their goal tally.
This was a hard defeat to take for the small band of fans who had made the trip as well as the squad. They’d played some great football for an hour with little reward. The challenge now is to lift themselves for the return fixture on Saturday, where three points are a must.
Hendon: Wright, Vassell, Sprague, Kirby, MacLaren, Garnett, McCluskey, Diedhiou (Cole – 79 mins), Pattie (Taggart – 46 mins), Ibe (Adams – 70 mins), Robins
Subs not used: Tingey, Flegg
Booked: MacLaren, Ibe
Lewes: Winterton, Brinkhurst, Redwood, Carey, Freeman, Okojie (Ben El-Mhanni – 72 mins), Conlon, Cotton, Smith, Laing, Baptista (Street – 59 mins)
Subs not used: Malins, Badger, Pyke
Referee: Mark Mellor