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Hendon, looking like a team that couldn't wait for the end of the season to come, were comprehensively beaten by a Horsham team still battling to avoid relegation. On a glorious Saturday early afternoon at Vale Farm, and watched by Man City fans relaxing before their FA Cup semi-final glory at the other Wembley, the Hornets were rarely inconvenienced on their way to a 3-0 victory.
There were a number of changes to the Hendon line-up as manager Gary McCann rested players for the London Senior Cup semi-final tie against AFC Wimbledon. James Burgess and Dave Reading - on his Ryman League debut, and his first start with his identical twin James since they were in the Wycombe Wanderers youth team three years ago - were at full-back, and Brad Fraser, back from Boreham Wood, joined James Parker at the heart of the defence.
Michael Peacock, Kevin Maclaren and Bradley Ambrose joined Scott Cousins in midfield. Only the front two - with Belal Aite-Ouakrim resting a couple of minor knocks - Greg Ngoyi and Aaron Morgan - remained unchanged from the team which had been beaten so unfortunately by Tonbridge four days earlier.
Slow starts are nothing new for Hendon since the turn of the year, and this match was no different. The Greens were on the back foot for much of the first quarter of an hour, but the Hornets did not create any clear openings. In the 18th minute, Billy Dunn - who spent a couple of months at Hendon on loan from Sutton United last season - had a great chance to open the scoring, but he failed to his the target.
It the delayed the inevitable for only a few minutes because, in the 20th minute, Ryan Woodford got around the back of the Hendon defence. As two defenders scrambled across to cover his run, Woodford delivered a low crow to the middle of the penalty area, where an almost unchallenged Jamie Brotherton was able to turn the ball into the net.
Dunn then had two chances to extend the Hornets' lead, but he failed to capitalise on good positions. Hendon meanwhile failed to trouble Mark Zawadski in the Horsham goal. Hendon's only opening fell to Ngoyi after 32 minutes. He worked himself into a good position, but dragged his shot a few yards wide of the target.
The Hornets defence was well marshalled by skipper Gary Charman, making his 500th first-team appearance for the team, and on the ground where he suffered a career-threatening facial injury last season. His first game back had been as a substitute against Hendon at Gorings Mead in September and he now has to play in a mask to protect his face.
Things went from bad to worse for Hendon on the stroke of half-time. Woodford had just made a couple of nasty challenge on Ambrose, which went unpunished, when he did the same to Burgess - again unseen by the referee.
Burgess saw the challenge coming and was able to half ride it, but as he landed he swung his forearm into Woodford's face and kicked out at him. The referee saw this and immediately produced a red card. Burgess's mood was made worse by a comment, which resulted in him returning to the fray, but he was pulled back before more damage could be done.
Seconds later, the half-time whistle went, but it meant Hendon, in very warm conditions, would have to played the second 45 minutes a man short. Strangely enough, the Greens were better in the second half.
Less than 60 seconds after the resumption, Hendon were given a great chance to get back into the match. A ball down the middle saw Morgan challenge for the ball with Tom Graves. Morgan just about got in front of the Horsham defender, who, with his arms draped over Morgan's shoulders pulled him down.
The referee instantly pointed to the penalty spot, a soft penalty maybe, but undoubtedly the right decision. With Jamie Busby on the bench, it was Ngoyi who took responsibility for it - although both Cousins (in seasons past) and Morgan (six weeks earlier) had been successful with spot-kicks.
There was little wrong Ngoyi's attempt, probably a little too high, but it was still well struck and pretty close to the post. Zawadski, however, guessed correctly and made a good save.
He did even better from the resulting corner. Curled into the penalty area by Cousins, it was not properly cleared and Morgan fired in a low shot which was arrowing just inside the albeit guarded near post. Zawadski plunged low to his left and made the defender redundant.
Hendon made a triple change just after the hour mark, Busby, Casey Maclaren and Rakatahr Hudson taking over from Dave Reading, Kevin Maclaren (who had picked up a knee injury) and Peacock. The Greens also resorted to different formation - but the personnel and positional changes had little effect.
After spurning another couple of chances to extend the Horsham lead, Dunn was withdrawn midway through the half and, six minutes later, James Reading made an excellent half-save to deny Brotherton a second goal and the danger was finally cleared by Fraser on the goalline.
But, over-committed to attack, Hendon left too many holes at the back and conceded twice more in the final ten minutes. They were also fortunate to not allow more goals in this period.
The two they did let in (after 80 and 88 minutes) were almost identical in creation: a player was able to get around the back of the defence and an unmarked Hornet was able to tap home much as he liked from a few yards out. Jamie Cade was first to profit, then Paul Kennett.
At the other end, Ngoyi had one other chance to score. It came just after Hendon had conceded the second goal and his low shot was again very well saved by Zawadski. It was just the third Hendon effort on target in the whole match.
"That was a hugely disappointing performance," said McCann. "We simply weren't at the races today. We were outmuscled and did not compete. I know I changed the team with Tuesday in mind, but I still expected much more from the players out there.
"I have learned more about the players in the last few weeks - especially their mental attitude - than I have in the past two or three years."