Hendon 2 Marine 2
Southern League Premier South | Tuesday 28th February 2023
Match Report from Pete Crockett
A LATE ARRIVAL AND STALMATE AT THE END
For seventy minutes this match had a disconsolate “one of those days” feel to it for Marine’s travelling support. A horrendous journey through gridlocked London traffic; a shortened warm up due to time pressures; the concession of a goal in the first minute of the match; and a sense the Marine team was struggling to fire on all cylinders as they trailed 2- 0 to a Hendon team whose football belied their lowly league position. However, as Billy Ocean famously sung “when the going gets tough the tough get going” and Marine found a way to extend their unbeaten run to ten matches.
Marine got off to the worst possible start. A minute into the match a ball was zapped across the penalty box from the left flank. It found the host’s Niko Muir-Merchant at the back post who netted with ease. Hendon were at this stage very much taking the game to Marine pressing with intensity and attacking with pace. In the 8th minute Shaun Lucien tested Josh Gould in the Marine goal following a pacEy run from a Joe White flick on. Then, on the half hour mark, the lively Niko Muir-Merchant came close to adding a second when a lofted ball from a Shaun Lucien run found him, however Josh Gould in the Marine goal snuffed out the danger.
As the half progressed Marine began to get a foothold in the game. Whilst not at their fluent best they started to both stem the incessant attacks and create the occasional opening for themselves. With ten minutes remaining Marine’s James Harding advanced into the box but his run was well intercepted by a defender’s challenge for the concession of one of three corners in a two minute period.
The Marine faithful looked at their timepieces as half time approached. There was a sense that if the visitors could get in 1-0 down the opportunity to regroup in the interval would see things pick up in the second half. Alas it was not to be. A defensive muddle presented Niko Muir-Merchant with an open goal which the host’s striker was never going to miss, although it did go in off the post!
The early stages of the second half were a continuation of the first with Hendon dominating proceedings. Ten minutes into the half the effervescent Niko Muir-Merchant forced a fine save from Josh Gould to keep Marine in the game. The hosts were effectively keeping the pressure on a Marine team struggling to find their usual slickness.
However, 65 minutes in there was an early sign that Marine were not dead and buried when Henry Spalding lashed a dangerous ball across the face of the host’s goal. However, four minutes later the host’s Dave Diedhiou saw an effort cleared off the line by some dogged Marine defending BY Sam Turl.
With eleven minutes remaining Marine gave themselves a life line. A flowing move, a deft flick as the ball comes across the host’s box, and a swivel and shot from James Harding halved the deficit. A good finish by the Marine striker to score his 11th goal in 16 starts. Then three minutes later, the visitors were level. A right sided corner saw Tyrone Duffus win an aerial duel and his flick to the back post found Zack Kotwica who rifled his shot past the Hendon keeper Hafed Al Droubi.
The final minutes saw both teams going for the decisive goal with Bagname Keita going closest for the home team with a shot from the edge of the area that rifled wide of the post. At the final whistle Hendon will undoubtedly have been disappointed not to have garnered all three points.
For the bulk of the match they were the dominant team playing with a quality well above their current league position. Niko Muir-Merchant, Shaun Lucien, and Joe White were all troublesome adversaries for Marine. However, defensively the hosts looked to have vulnerabilities and it was this that ultimately cost them the three points.
From a Marine perspective the reality is they were not at their best for large chunks of the match. However, what the team lacked in footballing fluency they more than made up for with battling character. It would have been very easy, with things not going their way, to succumb to the mindset it was not to be. However, good teams keep going when things are awry and strive to find a way to make things happen.
The players battled through, secured a point, and extended their unbeaten run to ten matches. The applause they got from the Marine supporters at the final whistle showed that those combative qualities to dig deep in adversity were appreciated.
Manager: Lee Allinson
**Colours: All Green
Line-up: 1. Hafed Al Droubi 2. Olu Dawodu 3. Lucas Perry 4. Tom Jackson (18. Arthur Iontton 71’) 5. Dan Matsuzaka 6. Dave Diedhiou 7. Liam Brooks (12. Bagname Keita 86’) 8. Leo Donnellan 9. Joe White (c) 10. Niko Muir-Merchant 11. Shaun Lucien (17. Rohdell Gordon 71’) Subs not used: 15. Kieran Forbes, 16. Guri Demuria
Goalscorer: Niko Muir-Merchant 2’, 45’
Editors Star Man: Niko Muir-Merchant, who scored a brace and was a constant threat.
Dave Diedhiou 47’, Hafed Al Droubi 82’
Manager: Lee Spalding
Colours: All Blue
Line-up: 1. Josh Gould 2. Sam Turl 3. Ryan Campbell 4. Jamie Edge 5. Malik Sesay (15. Tyrone Duffus 61’) 6. Mat Liddiard (c) 7. Henry Spalding 8. Brad Hooper (12. Conor McDonagh 46’) 9. James Harding 10. Joe Tumelty 11. Zack Kotwica
Subs not used: 14. Leon Morrison, 16. Casey Spencer-Harding
Goalscorers: James Harding 79’ , Zack Kotwica 81’
Editors Star Man: Ryan Campbell, for another excellent shift at left back. Defensively solid and a constant threat going forward.
Joe Tumelty 34’
Courtesy of Mike Wray
Post Match Team Sheet
Referee: Stuart Kyle Assistant Referees: Adam Jackson, Kyfer Mayhew