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Hendon progressed to the 2nd round of the CSS Cup with a narrow 1-0 victory over Walton Casuals on Tuesday evening at a very wet and increasingly blustery Xcel Sports Hub.
Both managers took the opportunity to look at some squad players with Jimmy Gray making half a dozen changes to his starting XI from Saturday's defeat at Poole Town.
Harvie Gardiner came in at right-back whilst Grenada international Kraig Noel-McLeod partnered Luke Tingey at centre half on his debut and Charlie Smith returned at left-back. Tom Nyama and Luca Valentine came into the midfield whilst Dan Williams replaced Connor Calcutt up front. Calcutt dropped to the bench where he was joined by Ryan Hope, Howard Hall, Sergio Manesio and Scott McGleish.
Walton included three former Hendon men in their line-up. Cheyce Grant, a member of last season's successful Under-23 side joined Brendan Murphy-McVey in midfield whilst Goldy Capela led the line for the Stags.
Both sides had early sighters at goal but without troubling either goalkeeper unduly, but on 15 minutes Andrew Ofosu struck a powerful angled strike against the frame of the Hendon goal from a corner and the Greens survived.
At the halfway point of the first period Luca Valentine struck an effort from just outside the penalty area that fizzed not far over the Walton crossbar and shorlty afterwards, Grant saw an effort well blocked by a smothering Hendon defender.
The deadlock was broken shortly before the break. A throw from the Hendon right was flicked on and fell invitingly for Francis Amartey to hook the ball home from just outside the 6-yard box. It was the on-loan Slough frontman's second goal in consecutive games.
The second half was quite an open affair with both sides creating plenty in the way of opportunities, however shots more often than not lacked either power, direction or a combination of the two.
The pace and movement of the Hendon front-three caused the home defence plenty of problems, yet when a shooting opportunity presented itself, the finish was errant. Amartey shot wide of the near post whilst English and Williams both fired wastefully over the top when well placed.
Midway through the second half, a flowing move down the Hendon right saw the ball crossed low for Williams to meet at pace. His first time low effort was on-target, but straight at Elgi Fejzo, who made a good stop with his feet. Had Williams been able to direct his effort either side of the goalkeeper he would likely have scored and given the Greens an unassailable advantage.
At the other end it was a similar story of target and chances missed. Rohdell Gordon had strong appeals for a penalty waved away when he appeared to be hauled down after dancing through a series of Hendon challenges whilst Murphy-McVey sent a free-kick from 25-yards wide of the target.
The best chance fell to substitute Harry Shepherd late on when he got onto a neat through ball and dinked the ball over the advancing Chris Grace. It zipped off the slick 3G surface and, from the hosts' point of view, agonisingly wide of the far post.
A couple of late corners caused some consternation in the Hendon box - two having to be punched clear at full stretch and under duress by Grace, and another begging for a touch that never came - whilst at the very end of the six minutes of stoppage time, a cross from the left was turned just wide of his own post by Charlie Smith ahead of an orange shirted attacker waiting to pounce.
That there was a lengthy amount of stoppage time was down to a nasty injury to midfielder Ryan Hope, minutes after coming on, that required him to be stretchered off. He went to hospital for an X-ray which fortunately found no fracture, but significant ligament damage that will keep him out of action for up to three months.