Covid-19: Supporters are starting to be readmitted to games where possible. However, all clubs have varying procedures to be followed. Please always check ticketing details and other requirements on our news pages and also with the host club before travelling.
Hendon reached their seven London Senior Cup final in 11 years â€“ all under Gary McCann's stewardship â€“ when they saw off a determined challenge from Ryman League One North basement-dwellers Redbridge by a solitary goal at Oakside on Tuesday evening. Having overcome Cray Valley Paper Mills, Croydon and Redbridge, one of Tooting & Mitcham United, Dulwich Hamlet or Harrow Borough will provide the final opposition in early May.
The team showed a few personnel and positional changes from the one which had drawn at Lewes, with Keagan Cole given his debut in midfield, while Tony Taggart dropped to left back to replace Ollie Sprague, whose failed fitness test meant he was only on the bench. Also substitutes were Scott Cousins, fresh from representing England in the World 5-a-side tournament in Thailand, Mahrez Bettache (after more than four months out injured) and Kieran Warren, named in first-team squad for the first time. Amongst those absent were Ben Pattie, Sam Flegg, Adam Wallace and Mark Kirby, the four named replacements at The Dripping Pan.
Redbridge may be bottom of the Ryman League One North, but they have enjoyed success in county cup action, reaching the last eight of the Essex Senior competition and last four of London's premier tournament (they saw off Wingate & Finchley in the quarter-final). And they showed that the holders would have to be fully alert if they were not to follow their neighbours out of the competition.
Two early openings showed their attacking prowess with two good moves inside 10 minutes. Neither of them resulted in an on-target attempt, but the Greens' defence looked distinctly uneasy.
In the 15th minute, another raid nearly brought the Motormen the reward their enterprise deserved. From 25 yards out, Carlos Espirito-Santo tried his luck with a swerving, dipping shot. Joe Wright, however, was equal to the outstanding attempt, by producing a save that was even better, considered by his manager as one his best all season.
It proved to be a turning point because, in the 19th minute, Cole attacked down the left wing, cut inside and rolled a pass to Brandon Adams. He tried to find an opening for a shot but, Manny Sackey and Stephen Good, formerly triallist and loanee, respectively, with Hendon shut him down.
Adams was able to move the ball across the penalty area to Kezie Ibe. He had Carl McCluskey outside of him, well positioned and completely unmarked. However, Ibe backed himself with a shot and his effort kissed the inside of the post before bouncing into the net, with Callum Chafer unable to do more than watch the ball.
For all their good approach work, Redbridge lacked a cutting edge and, indeed were grateful to Chater for three good first-half saves. However, the Greens were also guilty of over-egging their cake when in good positions.
Hendon were much better in the second half, at least in their defensive third of the field. Finnbar Robins, McCluskey, Casey Maclaren and Adams all had good scoring chances but failed to take them and this gave Redbridge renewed hope of grabbing an equaliser to possibly go on to win the tie in 90 minutes or take the game to a penalty shoot-out.
A strike from Reside Coxi-Sebastfao struck a Hendon defender and bounced away for a corner, while two other attempts lacked the power and precision to beat Wright, and further shots were off target. With 20 minutes to go, Maz Bettache replaced Maclaren, his first appearance since breaking an ankle in the October 2015 defeat at Merstham.
Warren was given his debut for the final 10 minutes, replacing Cole, and he found the side-netting with a strike two minutes after his introduction. The miss of the night was still to come, however, and it was Ibe who was responsible.
Chafer, for once, had been unable to make a clean save of a shot and the rebound went to Adams, who unselfishly rolled the ball into his strike-partner's path. Almost any on-target effort would have made it 2-0, but Ibe blasted the ball over the crossbar, the terracing and the all-weather pitch behind the goal.
A couple of minutes later, the final whistle blew, sparing any potential blushes and confirming Hendon's place in another London Senior Cup final.