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Hendon went out of the London Senior Cup at the third round stage - the Greens' first match in this year's competition - when Dulwich Hamlet scored three times in the first half at Claremont Road on Tuesday night.
The crippling injury list - one official described the situation as "you can't move in the treatment room for injured players, but the dressing room is empty" - meant that the only outfielders with significant first-team experience were Martin Randall, Dale Binns and James Burgess, and none had started a game since October.
Dulwich - themselves significantly understrength, but nevertheless much more experienced than the callow Dons - took a grip on the game in the opening 35 minutes. It took just 8 minutes for Hendon to be ripped apart down their left side and the cross was thumped home by Francis QUARM.
Waves of attacks rained down on the Hendon goal and it was no surprise that the lead was doubled after 21 minutes when, after a scramble, Meshach NUGENT scored his first goal for Hamlet, kneeing the ball over the line from close range.
Hendon's desperation in defence was evident again in the 35th minute, when Andy Hutchinson made a bad tackle in the penalty area, for which he was booked by referee Jonathan Bottomer, and NUGENT smashed the penalty off the underside of the crossbar and into the net.
The way things were going, the match had all the hallmarks of complete embarrassment for Hendon, who had looked totally punchless in attack. In the last minute of the half, Hendon finally got around the Dulwich defence, but Paul Seuke produced an excellent save to deny Binns.
The second half saw a different game. Dulwich, comfortable with their lead were content to sit back and let Hendon get into the game. The Greens forced a couple of half-chances, but were equally susceptible to attacks on the break from Hamlet.
In the 68th minute, Hendon got reward for their more enterprising play when Binns and Randall combined to send Harry JONES into a gap and he finished well.
Burgess saved Dean Lindsay's blushes when he cleared a shot from Warren Haughton off the line and the goalkeeper had allowed a shot to got under his body. At the other end, the lively Binns had two shots narrowly miss the target, while a backheader from Gavin Dayes nearly caught out Seuke, who leaped high to catch the ball as it looped over him.
Although the game was lost, a small positive for Hendon was the fact that two members of last season's Under-16s squad, Aaron McLeish and Daniel Llewellyn, were on the pitch at the final whistle.
"With all our injuries, I just couldn't risk my few remaining fit first-teamers," admitted manager Dave Anderson. "We had a few words at half-time and I am pleased with the way the team reacted in the second half."