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Hendon made a winning start to their defence of the London Senior Cup with a comfortable 4-1 defeat of Southern Counties League East Cray Valley Paper Mills at Silver Jubilee Park. Three first half goals ensured there was no prospect of this potential banana skin proving to a slippery disaster.
There were numerous changes to the line-up from the team which had lost at Tonbridge at the weekend. Joe Wright, Hassan Sulaiman, Mark Kirby, Russell Short and Andre Da Costa made way for Melvin Minter, Dean Cracknell, Dave Diedhiou, Finbarr Robins and Aaron Morgan, with Omar Vassell returning to right-back and Diedhiou partnering Sam Flegg at centre-back.
Kicking up the hill, Cray Valley started brightly and asked a few questions of the Hendon defence in the first few minutes. The Greens rearguard had all the answers and soon were setting posers which rather befuddled the Millers.
In the 16th minute, Morgan made his way into the penalty area, where a defender lunged at the ball and made contact with the striker instead, bringing him down. There was no protest at the award of the penalty and Sam Murphy beat Brad Morgan with a well-struck shot.
Buoyed by the goal, Hendon grew in confidence and started passing the ball with greater urgency and they soon found gaping holes in the Cray Valley defence. An attack down the left saw the ball played into the middle and Ollie Sprague, running into space, smashed the ball into the roof of the net.
Then, with half an hour on the clock, more good passing saw another chance created. This time it was Morgan who was on hand to apply the finishing touch.
From here, Hendon might have gone on to score many more goals. Unfortunately, both Ben Pattie and Kezie Ibe both failed on a couple of occasions and two or three other openings were wasted by inaccurate passes.
Pattie, who had an excellent game leading the line, did everything but score. In fact, he might have scored five times in the second half alone, seeing one effort deflected by a defender against a post, being twice thwarted by good Morgan saves and putting another couple just the wrong side of the post.
Hendon made three changes, sending on Kirby, Da Costa and Leon Smith for Murphy, Morgan and Ibe, respectively. Then, with 11 minutes remaining, there was the one disappointing aspect of the evening.
A Hendon corner was cleared downfield, found the defence absent and Jordan Sandiford was given a clear run at goal. Minter came racing off his line and made the decision easy for the Millers' substitute. Sandiford lifted the ball over Minter and turned away in celebration as the ball floated into the net.
The Greens response was immediate and also came from the No. 14, and also from a lob. Whether Smith intended it or not, the chip could not have been hit more languidly, or more accurately as the ball dipped just below the crossbar and inside the far post.
There could have been a fifth goal, but the chances were rather snatched at. After seven straight defeats in all competitions, the most important thing was a victory and that was duly achieved. In the quarter-final Hendon will be at home to winners of the tie between Greenhouse Sports and Croydon.