Hendon's run in the Southern League Challenge Cup came to a chastening end on Tuesday evening at Bloomfields at the hands of a rampant Needham Market side.
The Greens' cause was not helped by the unavailability of a number of players including one drop-out at 3pm and another at 5pm before Joe Howe, who was to be pressed into emergency action, broke down in the warm up and was unable to start. Luca Allinson came in for his first start whilst manager Lee Allinson was forced to name himself on the bench alongside Simeon Olarerin. Percy Kiangebeni, a midfielder who had previously been with St Albans City and Enfield Town made his debut after signing on a month's loan from Colchester United.
The hosts, who included former Hendon midfielder Russell Short in midfield, served early notice of their intent in the opening minute when Adam Mills tried to chip the ball over Rihards Matrevics, but lifted the ball over both the goalkeeper and crossbar.
Hendon, making an early tactical change moving Joe Felix from right-back into midfield to take over from Tommy Brewer, who moved back alongside Tommy Smith to allow Luke Tingey into the right-back berth, settled into the game and had a ten-minute spell where they passed the ball nicely, albeit without much penetration.
Shaun Lucien had two efforts after trademark runs but dragged the first wide and sent the second high into the new stand behind the goal and Andronicus Georgiou hit a rising drive from 20 yards that went over the top and clattered into the fascia of the stand.
Mills went close again when he beat the Hendon offside trap and lofted a bouncing ball over Matrevics and this time onto the roof of the net and this was the signal for the home side to take a complete stranglehold on proceedings.
The opening goal came after Mills found himself through on goal once again and his initial effort was well saved by Matrevics. The ball rebounded out of the penalty area where it was collected by Billy HUNT. He took a couple of steps and lashed a left-footed strike from just outside the box that flew past the startled Latvian goalkeeper who appeared to have been unsighted.
Short and Gareth Heath began to dictate things in midfield and picked the Greens off almost at will. The second goal came in the 34th minute and once again it was Mills at the heart of things as he charged down an attempted Tingey clearance and then galloped clear of the Hendon back-four. As he got to the by-line he cut the ball back for HUNT who scuffed his effort into the ground and then up and over the desperately scrambling Matrevics just inside the far post.
At this stage the hosts looked like scoring every time they went forward and only a couple of good saves from Matrevics kept the Greens alive before the break.
Liam Brooks was removed at half-time to protect tight hamstrings, giving Olalerin a Hendon debut, and the 18-year old signing from Staines Town acquitted himself well.
Within five minutes of the resumption, the Marketmen effectively sealed the tie when a free-kick wasn't dealt with and Luke Ingram neatly looped an angled effort over Matrevics and inside the far post to make it 3-0.
Georgiou had Hendon's first effort on target just past the hour mark, but his low effort was comfortably smothered by Marcus Garnham and with 20-minutes remaining the on-loan Stevenage man was withdrawn, also to protect tight muscles, and was replaced by the manager, making his first competitive appearance in 3 years. In doing so, Allinson became the first serving Hendon manager to make a competitive playing appearance since Frank Murphy on the final day of the 2000/1 season at Dulwich Hamlet when he replaced Bontcho Guentchev.
Allinson curled a free kick not far over the angle of post and bar before Olalerin caught the ankles of a Needham Market player inside the penalty area and the referee, who waited for a second for any advantage to develop, duly pointed to the spot. Regular spot kick taker Adam Mills deferred responsibility to youngster Callum Page who duly scored his first goal for the club sending Matrevics the wrong way.
With three minutes remaining, Shaun Lucien won a free kick about 25 yards from goal and, taking responsibility himself, sent a beautiful curling effort around the wall and beyond Garnham into the top corner. It was no more than a consolation, but the best goal of the evening.
There was still time for another young substitute Jamahl Godward to firstly hit the crossbar with an effort after being set up by a lung-busting run by 39-year old Gareth Heath from midfield, and then seizing on a defensive error from Smith, finishing neatly beyond Matrevics.
The young Latvian made a splendid save to deny Mills at the winger's feet in the final minute of stoppage time, but it was rendered moot by what had taken place before.