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Hendon won their sixth London Senior Cup, joint third-best all-time, and fourth in 11 years as they converted an extra-time penalty to beat Brentford B in a tense final at Hanwell Town on Monday night. It was an outstanding performance, especially defensively as the Greens held the young full-timers to barely half a dozen half-chances, and none within 12 yards of goal.
Making this an even greater achievement, Hendon boss Lee Allinson was without five players, Tommy Smith, Cheyce Grant, Matt Ball, Joe White and Liam Brooks, and he could name only three players on the substitutes bench.
Brentford B play a very high tempo, mainly short passing game, but there was little end product, mainly thanks to magnificent defending from skipper Tommy Brewer, Eddie Oshodi, Lucas Perry and Simeon Olarerin, the latter two doing well to limit raids down the flanks. The first B to try his luck was Julien Carre, but his shot, although stinging Jonathan North’s hands, was easily dealt with.
Shaun Lucien, a former Brentford junior, was seen as a danger man as he almost always faced two defenders when he got the ball at his feet. Nonetheless, in the ninth minute, he got in a low cross which would have reached Dwade James but for a brave grab by Ellery Balcombe – a Brentford first-team squad member – just in front of the striker’s feet.
Three minutes later, Joe Adams, who carried the most threat for the Bs all evening, drove a low shot which was well saved by a sprawling North, From the resulting corner, Aaron Pressley’s far-post header was blocked by a defender.
A beautiful pass from Solomon Sambou then released Lucien, who made an angle for a shot at goal. Whether it would have inconvenienced Balcombe was rendered moot by a sliding Paris Maghoma who put the ball out for a corner.
After 20 minutes, Fin Stewart and Adams linked well down the right side, but when Adams fired a shot at goal it was directly at North who saved easily.
Carre was cautioned for a 26th minute foul which resulted a shooting chance for Lucien from a 25-yard free-kick. His shot beat the wall but Balcombe made a comfortable low save by his post.
Brentford created a trio of half-chances, but Pressley shot wide and Kane O’Connor was off-target with a header. Maghoma was at least on target with his attempt after half an hour, but North was equal to it.
Just before half-time O’Connor was back in action, this time in his own penalty area as he headed away a Lucien shot, this after a spectacular pass from Sam Corcoran. For all of their possession, Brentford really had done little to break down the Greens in the first half and Hendon had probably looked more dangerous given shooting opportunities.
The second half was more of the same, without the goalmouth incident. In the 51st minute, a snap shot was deflected wide for a Brentford corner, which came to nothing.
Maghoma tried his luck with a free-kick from 25 yards following a foul on Fredrik Hammar, but but unlike Lucien’s efforts, this free-kick cleared the crossbar by a clear distance. Adams continued to pose a threat, but having turned well to get into a shooting position, he fired off target.
The Greens made their first change after 63 minutes, Jayden Clarke taking over Sammy Gebrai. With Gebrai forced into a much more defensive position, Clarke – it was hoped – would add more attacking power and support for James, who was working hard in isolation.
In the 76th minute, Hendon had a real escape. A diagonal through ball was aimed at Pressley, but Olarerin stretched to make an interception, shinning the ball into the arms of a grateful North.
To the shock and horror of the Hendon team, the referee ruled this was a back-pass by Olarerin and awarded an indirect free-kick to Brentford near the penalty spot. North pleaded his case and persuaded the referee to consult with his assistant, who had been well-placed to see the incident as it developed.
After a brief consultation, the referee reversed his decision and restarted play with a drop ball. Seconds later, Corcoran was fouled by a sliding challenge and looked aghast to see the referee had penalised him, only to see that decision also reversed and the free-kick was awarded to Hendon.
With three minutes to go a shot from one of the three triallists on the pitch – two had been substitutes – arrowing towards the near post, until the ball struck a team-mate. North had already dived to the post and looked on as the ball trickled towards the opposite upright. He was delighted to watch it bobble wide of the post.
Just before the final whistle, Lucien broke clear, but his shot went wide of the post. It meant that for the third time in five Hendon London Senior Cup ties in 2019–20, the 90-minute score showed parity. Hendon, thus, five days away from the Southern League opener, would have to go another 30 minutes.
Adams came close to opening the scoring two minutes into the first period of extra time, but North made a good block. The rebound fell to Pressley, but he too was denied by the goalkeeper.
Brewer made a timely intervention when he headed a delicate chip away from the target for a corner. Like all the Bees’ set-pieces, this one came to nothing.
Early in the second extra period, the Hendon skipper made an even better block, this one sliding in with perfect timing, to halt Pressley in full stride.
Hendon had offered relatively little in the way of attacking efforts in extra-time, but they were still in the game. They felt that, given one chance, they could make a difference.
In the 112th minute, those feelings were proved absolutely right. James brought the ball into the penalty area, turned sharply and beat O’Connor, who stuck out a desperate leg and clipped James’s ankle.
James went down and, after a moment’s hesitation, the referee pointed to the penalty spot. Before the kick could be taken, James received treatment and was helped from the pitch, meaning he could not take the attempt himself – ludicrously punishing the offended team.
Lucien stepped up to take the penalty and he sent Balcombe the wrong way. A couple of minutes later, Joe Howe came on to replace James, a defensive change to counter the expected siege from the Bs. There was another, unexpected, change shortly afterwards as the fourth official was brought into action when one of the assistant referees suffered an injury.
There was one last moment of concern for the Greens when Brentford forced a corner. Balcombe went on a charge into the penalty area, but the defence did its job as a combination of Pressley, Balcombe and substitute Tristan Crama all threw themselves at the ball but it went wide of the upright.
And, just to further run out the clock, Luca Allinson replaced Lucien, the substitution time of 120 + 4 minutes almost certainly the latest change ever made by Hendon. Moments later the final whistle sounded and, a few minutes later Brewer raised the London Senior Cup in front of ecstatic Hendon fans, players and officials.