Hendon advanced to the third round of the FA Trophy on Saturday with a 4-1 defeat of Bognor Regis Town at Nyewood Lane. Even if the final scoreline may have flattered the Dons, there is no doubting that they were more than deserved winners.
With Adrian Clarke's loan spell not being extended, he signed for Nationwide Conference Margate, the only change from the last weekend match was Iain Duncan coming into the side on the left side of midfield. On the bench, Hendon welcomed back Dale Binns after missing almost 3 months with a groin operation, while Warren Kelly replaced the injured Rob Haworth.
It took less than 4 minutes for Hendon to take the lead. Jamie Burgess's long cross towards the edge of the Bognor penalty area was won by Martin Randall, who was too strong for Paul Jones. The ball sat up beautifully for RANDALL, who drilled a 25-yard shot into the roof of the net off the hands of Pat Lawrence.
The goalkeeper really should have done better with his attempt to save Randall's shot, but that would have been nothing compared to his embarrassment 3 minutes later. Burgess launched a free-kick from 10 yards inside the Bognor half. The ball eluded Steve Forbes on the edge of the penalty area and seemed to leave Lawrence with an easy take, but he misjudged the bounce and was more than relieved to watch ball pass 6 inches wide of the post.
With Lawrence clearly lacking in confidence, it was no surprise that both Randall and Ricci Crace would try their luck from long range when the other was well placed. On both occasions the shots went well over the crossbar.
Gradually Bognor came back into the game and they enjoyed plenty of space out wide. However, when the ball came into the penalty area, Mark Cooper and Steve Butler were well in control of Matt Russell and Lee Stevens.
The one time the defence was caught out, a cross from the Bognor right bypassed almost everybody but Russell put the ball wide of David Hook's far post.
In the 30th minute, Crace showed great strength and pace to hold off Jones and John Tucker before firing in a shot that was arrowing just inside the near post until Lawrence atoned - if a goal-conceding error can be absolved - for his 4th-minute lapse with brilliant save.
At half-time Hendon boss Dave Anderson changed the team's formation to counter Bognor's pattern and it had the desired effect. Whereas Bognor had enjoyed plenty of possession if few clear-cut chances, after the break, the Rocks were starved even of the ball for the best part of half an hour. On the flanks, Micky Woolner and Burgess were able to link more effectively with Forbes and Duncan, respectively, while Jon-Barrie Bates and Paul Towler controlled the middle of the park.
At 1-0, however, the game was still in the balance and Hendon needed a second goal to be really comfortable. Crace, Randall and Forbes were all denied by Lawrence saves, although only the last of them had been particularly awkward. If either Crace or Randall had taken Forbes' shot, then they surely would have been sniffing for the rebound from Lawrence that the midfielder was slow to react to.
In the 76th minute, Bognor finally got the chance they were looking for, although it was hardly an opportunity of their own creation. A long downfield ball should have been easy for Hook, who was put under a little pressure from Russell.
The ball did not reach the penalty area as it took a bad hop. Hook's clearance connected with nothing but air and suddenly Russell had an almost open goal to aim at. He needed to control the ball and this took him nearer to the corner flag than he would have liked. Hook, still outside the penalty area, tried to shut down Russell and succeeded to the extent that the shot missed at the near post.
Four minutes later, Hendon doubled their advantage. Duncan was fouled near to the left touchline and Burgess took the free-kick. It was perfectly flighted and met by Paul TOWLER, whose flicked header bounced inside the unguarded far post.
With 6 minutes left in normal time, Hendon scored one of the goals of the season. Forbes won the ball in midfield and passed to Duncan, who quickly gave it back to him. Instantly, Forbes swung a 40-metre pass out to the opposite flank where Randall was unmarked.
Randall cut inside Jodey Rowland as he tried to tackle back, looked up and rolled the ball into space 10 yards from the Bognor goal. The striker had spotted CRACE sprinting clear of the tiring Tucker and his finish gave Lawrence no chance.
This was the signal for a slew of substitutions, Paul Yates and Eugene Ofori replacing Jon-Barrie Bates and Randall, while Nicky Wyatt for Steve Leigh was Bognor's second change - the over-matched Jones having been replaced by Richard Hudson before half-time.
Bognor claimed a consolation goal in the 88th minute, when RUSSELL finally converted a chance. It was his 21st of the season and 20th in 20 starts for the Rocks, but it had come far too late to affect the outcome. For Hendon, the afternoon was made perfect when Binns replaced Burgess in the 90th minute, ending a spell of 81 days on the sidelines for the exciting wide-man.
In fact, Hendon restored their 3-goal advantage in stoppage time. Another superb cross-field pass from Forbes found Yates alone on the right flank and his cross was met by a diving OFORI, who headed past Lawrence from 6 yards out.
Mr Anderson admitted, "That was a potential banana skin but we overcame it. I knew they were a good side and could cause us trouble. The second goal came at a good time for us. At 1-0 it was still a big cup-tie and one mistake could have cost us big time. In the end, in the last third of the pitch we looked a division better than they did and that was the big difference between us."