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Match Report

Chelmsford City
3
Hendon
2
Date:
Saturday 06 November 2010
Competition:
FA Cup
Attendance:
1685
Venue:
TBA

Match Report

Hendon came desperately close to causing an upset in the FA Cup sponsored by e-on first round tie at Melbourne Stadium, Chelmsford on Saturday afternoon, but the Blue Square Bet South division high-flying Chelmsford City just about deserved their 3-2 victory, which earned them a second round tie at Wycombe Wanderers.

The joy and relief that was evident around the ground after the whistle bears testament as to just how close the home fans and officials thought it was, while for Hendon there was disappointment in defeat, but pride in the way that the Greens never stopped battling right to the final whistle.

James Parker returned from suspension, replacing the injured - and much missed Belal Aite-Ouakrim, while Jonathan Coke and Eddie Munnelly swapped starting and substitute roles. Parker's return allowed Casey Maclaren to return to a more attacking role, one he has become far more accustomed to over the past 12 months. There were welcome places on the bench for Michael Peacock - back from injury - and new signing (for the third time) Brian Haule.

From the outset, it was clear that Chelmsford City were classes above anything Hendon had faced in the FA Cup this season. A 30-yard drive from Matthew Lock flew just over Berkley Laurencin's goal in the fifth minute and, three minutes later, the home fans were celebrating the opening goal.

The ever-dangerous Anthony Cook ran diagonally towards the penalty area and passed to Billy Bricknell. The former Leyton and Billericay front man (the former's goalscorer when Hendon beat them 11-1 in December 2007), flicked the ball inside to Sam Higgins, who beat Craig Vargas before rifling in an eight-yard shot, just inside the near post.

Hendon struggled to make any impression with Aaron Morgan almost a lone striker. In the 21st minute, a free-kick from Ben Coker had headed over the bar for a corner, which the Greens dealt with well and almost fashioned an equaliser on the break.

Guentchev broke down the right wing and fed Morgan, whose deep cross was met beyond the far post by Jamie Busby. His effort was on target, but a combination of Mark Haines and James Pullen just about managed to keep the ball out. It was a warning shot across the Chelmsford bows that they didn't really heed.

Nonetheless it was Chelmsford who deservedly scored next. Again the provider was Cook, this time with a right-wing cross. The ball fell to Bricknell, whose first effort was half-blocked by Vargas, but Bricknell reacted quicker and slammed the ball home from 10 yards.

Within two minutes, Hendon had forced a corner, taken by Busby. Vargas won a good header, which Pullen could only parry, but Sami El-Abd did just enough to put off Casey Maclaren, who could not divert the loose ball towards the goal.

Seven minutes before half-time, Vargas, who had passed a fitness test before the match, was replaced was replaced by Peacock, on whose fitness for the full 90 minutes manager Gary McCann had been unwilling – with some justification - to risk. The young centre-back showed no sign of big match nerves and he and Parker looked much more solid at the heart of the Hendon defence.

Quite how much they would have been tested by an 11-man Clarets team - including Higgins, who had scored eight times in this season's FA Cup competition - will be never be known because a moment of recklessness changed the game completely.

In the 41st minute a ball from Lubomir Guentchev pressured El-Abd into a defensive header towards Pullen. It was short and Morgan chased the loose ball. Although Pullen got to the ball first, he dived in feet first and ripped open a deep gash in Morgan's thigh. The referee had a good view of the incident, pointed to the penalty spot and, as Hendon players were huddled around the injured Morgan, he showed the Chelmsford goalkeeper the red card.

Before the kick could be taken, Higgins was withdrawn and Ashley Harrison - an FA Cup hero with Canvey Island in the early 2000s - went between the posts. Up stepped Busby and although Harrison guessed correctly, he wasn't able to get a hand on the spot kick. Haule then came on for Morgan, so both teams had lost their No.9s.

When he made his first ever Hendon appearance, Haule scored with his first touch. He came desperately close to another rapid goal, this one barely two minutes into the second half. A cross from Busby almost picked out Haule, but he was denied the chance to shoot by a brave intervention from El-Abd.

With a man advantage, Hendon used the ball much better in the second half, but Chelmsford were happy to cede territory and leave Bricknell as a lone and rather isolated striker. For all their possession, Hendon couldn't really trouble the well-marshalled Clarets defence and Ashley Harrison had little to do.

There was one very nervous moment in the 64th minute, when Haule burst through. The offside flag was up, but Harrison still dived in feet first towards the Hendon substitute, who had slowed down hearing the referee's whistle and there was no contact between the players. Having seen his teammate dismissed for a similar challenge, it was a dangerous game to play for Harrison.

Before play could resume, Bricknell was withdrawn and former Hendon favourite Takumi Ake took over from him.

But the game was pretty much decided in the 68th minute. Cook picked up the ball some 30 yards from the Hendon goal. He took a few steps forward and rifled an early shot which flew in just inside Laurencin's near post.

If that goal should have calmed the Chelmsford nerves it didn't. Both Lock and skipper John Martin picked up cautions for bad tackles and the latter then made another silly challenge. The referee's lecture was obvious and Chelmsford manager Glenn Pennyfather took the hint, sending on a substitute almost immediately.

Hendon certainly didn't believe they were beaten and they reduced the arrears for the second time with 11 minutes of the 90 remaining. A perfectly timed and weighted pass from Lee O'Leary found Busby running the through the middle. Ben Nunn appealed vainly for offside as Busby ran in on goal and lifted the ball past the outrushing Harrison, who caught the Hendon goalscorer.

It would have been interesting to see what, if any, action the referee would have taken had Busby not scored. It was another reckless challenge by the goalkeeper, feet first, and not at the ball. Busby was not injured, and with Daniel Wishart having just replaced Kevin Maclaren, the Greens could not have made another substitution.

It was all or nothing now for Hendon and they committed more men to attack. This allowed Ricky Modeste - a thorn in the Hendon side for much of the afternoon - even more space and he took full advantage of this in the 83rd minute. His low cross picked out Lock, but Coke made a brilliant goalline clearance to deny the Clarets a fourth goal.

As the game moved into stoppage time, Haule got the better of El-Abd, but the defender did just enough to force Haule wide, and his shot, although beating Harrison, found the outside of the side-netting at the near post.

In the final minute of the five of added time, Guentchev had the chance to be the Hendon hero. He got the better of Nunn, cut inside Haines, but was slightly off balance as he tried to beat Harrison. The ball few inches wide of the post and with it Hendon's chance of forcing a replay disappeared.

Hendon manager Gary McCann said, "I don't think we played anywhere near as well as we could today. But we went toe-to-toe with a top team in the Blue Square Bet South League and lost only narrowly.

"I think two or three of the players found the occasion a bit much and it took us a while to get into the game. But we never stopped battling and it speaks volumes for the team as a unit that our commitment was there for the full game and we nearly got a result."

Report by David Ballheimer

Hendon

1
Berkley Laurencin
2
Jonathan Coke
3
Scott Cousins
4
Craig Vargas
5
James Parker
6
Kevin Maclaren
7
Lubomir Guentchev
8
Lee O'Leary
9
Aaron Morgan
10
Casey Maclaren
11
Jamie Busby
12
Daniel Wishart
13
James Burgess
14
Brian Haule
15
Danny Dyer
16
James Reading
17
Michael Peacock
18
Eddie Munnelly

Match Events

Sam Higgins
8''
Billy Bricknell
29''
38''
Michael Peacock replaced Craig Vargas
Ashley Harrison replaced Sam Higgins
42''
James Pullen
42''
43''
Brian Haule replaced Aaron Morgan
43''
Jamie Busby
Takumi Ake replaced Billy Bricknell
65''
Anthony Cook
68''
Stephen Reed replaced John Martin
72''
76''
Daniel Wishart replaced Kevin Maclaren
80''
Jamie Busby

Chelmsford City

1
James Pullen
2
Adam Nunn
3
Ben Coker
4
Mark Haines
5
Sami El-Abd
6
Matthew Lock
7
Ricky Modeste
8
John Martin
9
Sam Higgins
10
Anthony Cook
11
Billy Bricknell
12
Takumi Ake
14
Grant Cooper
15
Mark Crick
16
James Mulley
17
Stephen Reed
18
Oliver Rowe
19
Ashley Harrison