Hendon suffered an agonising FA Cup exit at the first hurdle when they fell 3-1 at AFC Sudbury on Saturday. It was the first time they have suffered this fate for 30 years and will leave the Greens with some serious soul-searching.
There were three changes to the starting eleven from Tuesday night's win at East Thurrock United: new signing Ben Frempah took over from Sam Flegg; a tight hamstring meant Kezie Ibe was not risked, so Leon Smith took his place; and injured Scott Shulton was replaced by Mahrez Bettache.
Both Flegg and Ibe were on the seven-man substitutes' bench, as was another new signing Aryan Tajbakhsh. The captain's armband, with Lee O'Leary, Flegg and Ibe on the bench and Elliot Brathwaite a long-term absentee, went to Dave Diedhio
It took less than a minute for the alarm bells to start ringing as Luke Callender forced Marvin Minter into a save. And the warning was clearly not heeded because the Greens conceded before another 90 seconds had elapsed.
Callender went on another run. Three defenders could or should have made tackles on him, or at least made it more difficult for the striker, but none did, so when Callender saw the target open up in front of him, he fired the ball past the diving Melvin Minter into the net.
Minter was called into action again in the 12th minute, this time making a good save from Callender.
Then, out of almost nothing, the Greens were level. A long ball from Frempah showed that the AFC Sudbury defence was as uneasy as the Hendon one.
Leon Smith got in front of James Baker and then slowed down to bring the ball under control. Baker didn't slow and ran straight into Smith's back, bundling over the striker. The assistant referee waved his flag to indicate a penalty.
Aaron Morgan stepped up to take the penalty. His run-up was not long, but his strike was firm and true, and would almost certainly have beaten Ollie Bowles even if he had guessed correctly, which he didn't.
Three minutes later, Smith found himself in space to meet a cross from Russell Short, after good work from Lance Tingey and Bettache had kept the ball in play. The striker really should have put the effort on target, but the ball went over the crossbar.
In the 21st minute, an even better chance fell to Andre Da Costa. He ran onto a clever short pass after good work from Morgan and Smith, but put too much power into his effort and it, too, cleared the bar.
Six minutes before the interval, the Hendon defence reverted to the type of the opening dozen minutes. This time it was Craig Parker who went on a powerful run and he shot past Minter to restore the Sudbury lead.
Before the start of the second half, Frempah was replaced by Tajbakhsh, moving Tingey to partner Wharton and Diedhiou dropped into full-back. Within 30 seconds of the restart, Hendon should have been level when Smith beat the offside trap, and had only Bowles to beat. The goalkeeper made fine kick-save, but the feeling was that Smith should have put the ball into the net.
In the next dozen minutes the match was lost. First, Tajbakhsh rode two foul challenges 10 yards inside the Sudbury half, before a third player made an illegal challenge. The substituteÃ¢Â€Â™s reaction was to push away the opponent, and he was shown the red card for raising his hands.
Five minutes later, the Hendon defence was carved open by a neat attack and when the ball was played to PArker, he finished with a fine, low angled drive.
Hendon sent on Courtney Harris and OÃ¢Â€Â™Leary in place of Wharton and Da Costa for the final 20 minutes. The Greens certainly had the chances to get back into the game, O'Leary firing wide from a good position and then was denied by a superb block by Bowles.
They did have the ball in the net in the 87th minute. Smith appeared to have beaten the offside trap but his shot was saved by Bowles. O'Leary followed up and netted, but the assistant referee had seen an offside decision and the goal didn't count.
It wasn't all one-way traffic and Minter produced two excellent saves late on as Sudbury took advantage of Hendon over-committing to attack.