Rooks can’t convert early advantage against Hendon

First-half goals from Lloyd Cotton and Ronnie Conlon were not enough to help Lewes to a vital three points, as Hendon came from behind twice to leave the Pan with a share of the spoils and prevent the Rooks closing the gap on the teams above them reports Tom Harper.

Darren Freeman made two changes to the side that had lost 2-0 at Hendon in their previous game, with Jordan Badger and Henry Muggeridge replacing Lee Carey and Dee Okojie in the starting line-up.

The Rooks saw a lot of the ball early on and made the best possible start by taking the lead after just two minutes through Cotton, who headed an excellent Miguel Baptista cross past Joe Wright in the Hendon goal and into the bottom corner.  The visitors opted for a more direct style than Lewes, with the experienced Kezie Ibe beginning to cause Stacey Freeman and Badger problems with his physical presence.

Hendon were very nearly level within minutes, as Casey MacLaren sent a far post header against the outside of the post following a short corner.  They did not have to wait much longer to equalise though, with Brandon Adams finding himself in space down the right and sending a low effort across Chris Winterton and into the far corner to level the scores after just 12 minutes

There were few chances of note for much of the remainder of the first half, as both sides tightened up defensively after such a lively start to the game.  The few chances that were created were falling to the Rooks though, with the impressive Muggeridge sending a cut-back just behind Jonte Smith with the striker unmarked in front of an almost goal.

With the game approaching half-time, Lewes were able to regain the lead after 44 minutes. Ronnie Conlon was the scorer, being in the right place at the right time to finish into the roof of the net from point-blank range after Wright had done superbly to keep out a Baptista header following a cross from Muggeridge.

The Rooks made a bright start to the second half and might have had a penalty within minutes of the restart, as Badger saw an attempted scissor-kick blocked by the arms of Carl McCluskey.  Although the Hendon midfielder was only a couple of yards away from Badger when he struck the ball, his arms were well away from his side and on another day, a spot-kick could well have been awarded.

Lewes were continuing to enjoy most of the play and saw Alex Laing shoot just wide of the far post after beating the Hendon back four to a through-ball from Smith. It was therefore slightly against the run of play when the visitors equalised for a second time after 58 minutes. Smith was the scorer again, as he helped a Tony Taggart cross towards goal with a looping header that caught Winterton off his line and dropped just under the crossbar.

This goal undoubtedly galvanised the visitors, who saw Finbarr Robins have a free-kick well saved by Winterton before slicing an effort wide from inside the area when he should have hit the target.

The introduction of Josh Street and Charlie Coppola saw the Rooks rally for the final ten minutes and force a number of set-pieces, which the Hendon defence dealt with fairly comfortably.

The Rooks were handed a boost at the start of injury-time, as Robins was shown a second yellow card and thought they had won the game just minutes later, only for Cotton to have been adjudged offside as he volleyed a Smith cross past Wright at the far post after a corner had not been cleared.

This was a disappointing result for Lewes, who would have hoped for a win to boost their survival chances after losing their previous two games.  The Rooks will hope to build on the point they were able to pick up today when they travel to Billericay Town on Tuesday, kick-off at 7.45pm.

Lewes: Winterton, Brinkhurst, Redwood, Conlon, Freeman, Badger, Muggeridge (Coppola 85), Cotton, Smith, Laing, Baptista (Street 80).

Unused Subs: Okojie, Ben El-Mhanni, Stroomberg.

Booked: Cotton, Laing.

Hendon: Wright, Tingey, Sprague (Flegg 60), Diedhiou, MacLaren, Garnett, Robins, McCluskey, Ibe, Adams, Taggart (Pattie 81).

Unused Subs: Wallace, Kirby.

Booked: Garnett, Robins.

Sent off: Robins.

Attendance: 374

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Author: stuartnoel

Nearly prize winning author of Passport to Football, Budget Airline Football and European Football - A Fans Guide.