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Hendon showed courage and resilience after conceding two first half goals to come back and eventually win a long penalty shoot-out to knock out Hayes & Yeading United in the Southern League Cup. The Greens are now through to the last 16 of the competition for the first time.
There were a couple of changes to the team which had lost at Swindon Supermarine three days earlier, Howard Hall coming in Romario Jonas and Reece Mitchell replacing Wadah Ahmidi. Interestingly, only three players in this starting line-up had been in the 11 for the FA Cup tie against the same opponents six and a half weeks earlier: Sergio Manesio, Tom Hamblin and Luke Tingey.
That said, neither team was close to being a full strength, with three key Hayes & Yeading players not involved, goalkeeper Jack Smith and forwards Hassan Jalloh and Omar Rowe (the last being an unused substitute). Two former Greens started for Hayes, goalkeeper Andrew McCorkell and striker Ogo Obi.
McCorkell was nearly embarrassed in the second minute when he attempted to clear a back-pass under pressure from Connor Calcutt. The striker leapt to block the ball and got his body to it, but the rebound looped over the crossbar.
Hendon set the early pace, but found the visiting defence determined to continue their domination of the Greens. Isaac Galliford had a shot blocked, Manesio fired wide and a double shooting chance didnâ€™t force McCorkell into action.
Obi and much-travelled strike partner Elliott Buchanan worked well together, getting a good supply of attacking chances from Toby Little, Connor Toomey and Scott Donnelly, but Dante Baptise was not worked too hard thanks to solid defensive work from Howard Hall, Corey Panter, Tingey and Hamblin, with Ryan Hope and Manesio in front of them.
Hendon had loud penalty claims waved aside in the 32nd minute. A 25-yard free-kick was blocked by the defensive wall, but the referee was not certain the ball had struck an outstretched hand or arm.
Within a minute, Hayes & Yeading took the lead in slightly controversial circumstances. Manesio challenged a Hayes player in the centre circle and went down holding his head.
As Hendon players looked back at the prostrate Manesio, OBI ran forward and struck a powerful, curving shot past Baptiste. Without wishing to detract in any way from the sweetness of Obiâ€™s strike, modern football regulations require play to be stopped immediately if the referee has any thought there may be a head injury.
Unfortunately for the Greens, the referee failed to look back, despite a couple of protestations.
As has been the case all too often this season, Hendonâ€™s confidence drained away almost as soon as the first goal went in. Baptiste made a good save from Buchanan, who was probably a bit too nonchalant with his finish and the raiding Little came close to creating a second goal with a driven low cross which eluded everyone.
In the 40th minute, however, the second goal did arrive, with Little the provider. The first attempt was well blocked by Baptise but the rebound fell to BUCHANAN, who knocked the ball into the net from inside the six-yard box.
Hendon did not concede a third goal, but look a beaten team as they trooped into the dressing rooms at half-time. Manager Lee Allinson didnâ€™t mince his words in his team-talk, making it absolutely clear what he wanted from his players.
Before play resumed, both teams made one change, Calcutt making way for Tahjae Anderson, and James Clark replacing Afolabi Coker. Allinsonâ€™s words had the desired effect and Hendon dominated the period.
McCorkell made a very good double save to deny Mitchell and Shaun Lucien, but the Greens kept the pressure up by forcing a number of corners. After 60 minutes, the delivery was spot-on and TINGEY was able to head home from close range.
Five minutes later Hendon should have been level. Good approach play down their right side saw desperate defending fail to deal with the danger.
The ball fell to Galliford, who was in space in the middle of the penalty area. He probably had more time than he thought because he rushed the shot and the ball sailed high over the crossbar.
Hayes were limited to dangerous-looking counter-attacks, but none of Obi, Little, Buchanan and Toomey ever had the space to ask questions of Baptiste. Much of the credit for this was down to Panter, who displayed a maturity beyond his years in timing excellent challenges to break up the danger and force Hayes to play the ball backwards.
In the 85th minute, Anderson went on a mazy run past two or three defenders down the left the side. He cut in and delivered a low cross which only needed a touch from a green shirt to bring a goal, but there was just too much pace on the ball for the onrushing attackers.
A minute later, the Greens got their equaliser. PANTER collected the ball just inside the Hayes half, went forward, without facing a challenge and then, from almost 30 yards, drilled a superb drive beyond McCorkellâ€™s dive into the net.
That was pretty much the end of the goalmouth action at either end, so the game went to penalties, the fans grateful that an increasingly chilly night would not need another 30 minutes. As it happened, the penalty shoot out pretty much took up half an hour.
Hendon went first and Galliford scored comfortably. The response from Clark brought out an excellent save from Baptiste. This early advantage was immediately lost as Mitchell's effort was save by McCorkell and Donnelly levelled it at 1â€“1.
Efforts number three from both teams, Lucien and Joe Grant respectively, could not beat the opposing goalkeeper so the scoreline didnâ€™t change. Ryan Hope slammed the ball home without fuss, while Buchanan, with a deft dink, restored parity.
From now on, effectively, it was a sudden-death shoot-out. Anderson and Obi took their kicks with comfort and an air of never looking like missing.
The least said about Hall's attempt, the better, other than to say the ball crashed off the top of the crossbar and bounced into the car park. Little could have won it for Hayes, but Baptiste produced a magnificent save to keep it at 3â€“3 after six attempts.
Manesio made no mistake with his spot-kick, and the scores were again level as Keano Robinson smashed his effort off the underside of the crossbar and the ball bounced into the roof of the net. Panter and Dylan Switters ensure the shoot-out would continue with unfussy finishes.
It was now down to the bottom of the managers' list of takers and Tingey did his bit for Hendon, his success quickly matched by Jack Williams. The only question now was would either Baptiste or McCorkell be anything other than the last men standing on the spot.
As it was, Baptiste took centre stage because after Hamblin had held his nerve to make it 7â€“6, the on-loan goalkeeper ensured the game would end by blocking Toomeyâ€™s effort.
This was the longest penalty shoot-out in Hendon first-team history, the 20 kicks being two more than the 2009 FA Cup third round qualifying replay at Ashford Town (Middlesex). That October night, after a 2â€“2 draw following 120 minutes of action, teenaged defender Pat Oâ€™Donnell scored Hendon's ninth (out of nine) and James Reading saved Vinnie Oâ€™Sullivan's response.