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Hendon reached the semi-final of the London Senior Cup, sponsored by Coventry Scaffolding, with an eventually comfortable 2-0 defeat of Ryman League Division One North Thamesmead Town at Bayliss Avenue on Wednesday night.
With Belal Aite-Ouakrim failing a fitness test just before kick-off Aaron Morgan came in to partner Greg Ngoyi up front with Danny Dyer dropping to the bench to make way for him.
Thamesmead's form in recent weeks has rather mirrored Hendon's and their lacking of a cutting edge was very evident. In fact, they did not manage to put a single attempt on target in the whole 90 minutes.
That said they nearly took the lead in the seventh minute when a free-kick was curled into the penalty area and a Hendon defender got to the ball first, but succeeded only in looping the ball towards his own goal. James Reading was able get back and just tip the ball over the crossbar.
The best move of the match brought Hendon the opening goal in the 17th minute. Dave Diedhiou started it in midfield, passing the ball to Ngoyi. He then found Morgan, whose diagonal pass released Jamie Busby.
A half-hearted offside appeal by a Thamesmead defender was turned down as Busby bore down on goal. Sam Mott came off his line, but Busby slipped the ball past him to record his 50th goal for Hendon.
Hendon doubled their lead in the 27th minute, but this time they didn't have to do too much to achieve it. A ball towards the Thamesmead penalty area seemed to be overhit, but Diedhiou chased it nonetheless.
Mott came to the edge of the box and bent down to pick up the ball. Seeing Diedhiou approaching, he took his eye off the ball and it rolled against the back of his hand and away.
Suddenly Diedhiou had the ball at his feet with nothing but 16 yards of fresh air between him and the goal. After taking a few strides, Diedhiou rolled the ball into the empty net.
In the 29th minute, Hendon nearly had a third goal. A corner from Scott Cousins was hit low towards the near post where James Parker was lurking. The central defender flicked the ball with his heel and Mott made the save, at the second or third attempt, inches from the line.
For the rest of the first half, Thamesmead enjoyed plenty of possession, but Parker, Casey Maclaren and Cousins kept the danger well away from Reading. In front of the trio, James Burgess and Kevin Maclaren added further protection.
Busby and wing-backs Diedhiou and Eddie Munnelly tried support the front two, but they were often picking up scraps of possession too far away from them to be effective. For their part Thamesmead wasted the ball with over-ambitious passes.
The second followed the same pattern as the first half, with Thamesmead attacking frequently, but lacking the guile and direction to unlock the Hendon defence. When Hendon did attack in numbers, the home defence looked anything but secure.
In the 62nd-minute, Kevin Maclaren joined a Hendon attack and, when the ball came to him just outside the Thamesmead penalty area, he unleashed a powerful. Mott was well positioned and pulled off a good save.
With 25 minutes remaining, Diedhiou and Morgan were replaced by Rakatahr Hudson and Bradley Ambrose, and Hudson immediately had a shot which took a couple of deflections and ended up dribbling into the arms of Mott.
A minute later, a Thamesmead attack down the right ended with the ball at Gabriel Momodu's feet, but his shot flashed wide of the far post with Reading apparently beaten.
Thamesmead then sent on Jake Burnham for Harrison Carnegie, but he could not turn the tide Hendon's way. Dyer replaced Ngoyi, and he was put in an unfamiliar attacking role alongside Ambrose.
Defending a two-goal lead as time wore down, Hendon were relatively comfortable but they did have another escape in the 88th minute when Thamesmead skipper, Nick Davis, moved up from his central defensive position to add size and strength to the attack, had a header which bounced just wide of the far post.
"It was an efficient performance," said happy Hendon manager Gary McCann. "I am pleased with the result and to get into the last four.
"The defence did well against a team that worked very hard. But I don't think we gave them too many openings."