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Hendon won the London Senior Cup for the third time in seven seasons and completed a cup double by coming from behind to beat Tooting & Mitcham United 3-2 after extra time at Imber Court, Metropolitan Police FC, on Thursday night.
The Greens stretched their unbeaten run to 24 matches, but they were down to 10 men and needed an 87th-minute equaliser to force the extra 30 minutes. And it was only during that additional period that Hendon showed more of their true form.
Despite a 12-day break Hendon were not at full-strength, with both Sam Murphy and Aaron Morgan not risked from the start. Elliott Brathwaite returned from suspension, while Ben McNamara and Kevin Maclaren were back after injury. In addition, the formation included Sam Flegg, with Dave Diedhiou also on the bench.
The least about the first 45 minutes the better. Neither team did a great deal, though Tooting were the more adventurous and cohesive. All too often, Hendon were content to pass the ball around the defence, but then would give the ball away.
Kevin Maclaren did have one shot, after Andre Da Costa had been fouled near the goalline, just outside the penalty area. His shot lacked power and was easily dealt with.
For all their positivity, and Tinashe Nkoma, Dan Summers and Leon Lalor-Dell ran with great gusto at the Hendon defensive line, Tooting lacked the creativity to get past Brathwaite, Charlie Goode and Sam Flegg. When they tried their luck from long-range, the Tooting shooting lacked direction.
Then, in the 39th minute, the Terrors made the breakthrough. Hendon were penalised on the edge of their penalty area. Nathan Gordon struck the free-kick powerfully and the ball cannoned off the wall into the net, despite the best of efforts of Ben McNamara, who got a hand to the ball but could not keep it out.
Moments before half-time, there was a very strange incident. Alex Kozakis took an age to kick the ball from his hands. Leon Smith was in front of the Tooting goalkeeper, but was standing outside the penalty area, so not obstructing him.
After about 20 seconds, the referee penalised the goalkeeper with an indirect free-kick. The Terrors' defensive wall was just outside the six-yard box, and was beaten by Brathwaite's shot. Standing by the post Saidoo Khan blocked Brathwaite's drive, then did better to keep out Oliver Sprague's attempt on the rebound.
Early in the second half, Flegg picked up an injury and was replaced by Diedhiou. But Hendon continued to misfire, with the midfield quartet of Kevin and Casey Maclaren, Lee O'Leary and Da Costa struggling to link with Kezie Ibe and Smith, who were well shackled by the Tooting rearguard.
Midway through the half, Hendon replaced Kevin Maclaren and Smith with Murphy and Morgan, but things got worse before they got better for the Greens. With a little more than 20 minutes to go, a quick Tooting counter-attack saw Summers running straight at the Hendon goal.
Sprague came across to the deal with the danger, but got the timing and body position for the tackle all wrong. The upshot was that Summers went down and the referee was left with little alternative but to produce a red card. Although the striker may not have had complete control of the ball, it was within a couple of yards of his feet.
Also, as McNamara and a covering defender were some distance from Summers, who was still just outside the penalty area. and could not have stopped him, it had to be considered an obvious goalscoring opportunity. The wall, however, did its job this time and blocked the free-kick which followed.
With seven minutes remaining, Tooting finally mustered a shot from open play that came close to the target. Gordon was again the man as his angled drive beat McNamara all ends up, but no Tooting forward was close enough to get to the rebound before a green shirt hacked the ball to safety.
That might have been just the wake-up call Hendon needed, because they suddenly upped their tempo. Murphy became more involved down one flank and Da Costa on the other side linked better with Diedhiou, but Tooting's biggest problem was with the late-timed runs of Morgan.
And, with three minutes to go, the substitute found himself with the ball at his feet five yards outside the penalty area, no defender particularly close, and a good angle to aim for the far post. Morgan's shot was low, it was true and Hendon were level.
The first period of extra-time was completely dominated by the Greens, who attacked with verve and imagination. The black and white defence looked shaky and it was no surprise when Hendon took the lead just over 10 minutes into the added 30.
It was a crisp, rapid move which dragged defenders out of position and when the ball came to Morgan, he repeated his feat from a few minutes earlier, finishing with aplomb.
Three minutes later, the lead was doubled. This time it was Ibe who found space and although Kozakis made a brave block of the first attempt, when the ball came back to Ibe, he scored his 28th goal of the season.
There was till time, before the teams turned around, for David Graves to see a header from a corner gathered by McNamara, above his head. The header probably lacked a little bit of power, but the defender had lost his marker and might well have done better.
Both teams were struggling with exhaustion in the second period, but all the desperation had to come from Tooting, who were chasing the game. Hendon didn't do much in the way of attacking and soaked up the pressure which was applied, not always the calmness that has been a feature in most recent Greens games.
Harry Knock took the desperation a step too far in the 114th minute when he lunged in wildly on Casey Maclaren. It was the sort of challenge that routinely results in a red card, so he can consider himself fortunate that the card he was shown was yellow in colour. Maclaren was able to continue after treatment, but Hendon had to spend a few seconds with a two-man disadvantage.
There was one final twist to the tale, in 117th minute. Francis Quarm has marauded upfield late in games all season long and tried his luck with long-range shooting. It was just Hendon's misfortune that on this occasion, his powerful drive was accurate and it beat McNamara's dive.
One more silly free-kick was conceded around the Hendon penalty area, to the keep the Greens' nerves jangling right to the very end. The delivery wasn't good enough. Hendon cleared the ball downfield and the referee brought proceedings to an end.