POTTON UNITED V HENDON (by David Ballheimer)
Potton United (1) 1, Hendon (1) 5
Hendon eventually eased their way into the next round of the FA Cup with a 5–1 victory over Potton United that doesn’t give any indication of their first half struggles. For 20 minutes, the Greens were looking down the barrel at an embarrassing and damaging first qualifying round exit from the FA Cup.
The returning Liam Brooks came straight into the starting line-up, replacing Frank Keita, playing behind Joe White up front, while Guri Demuria came in for Tarik Moore-Azille as Tommy Brewer’s centre-back partner. The seven-man bench included goalkeeper Bradley Shaw and on-loan midfielder Alie Bangura – from Kings Langley – but neither were used.
The Greens looked tentative from the start, as exhibited by Rohdell Gordon’s yellow card after three minutes, cautioned for complaining about the non-award of a free-kick for a challenge on the halfway line. It was, in fact, the only noteworthy incident of the first 12 minutes as the teams sized up each other.
White’s perseverance nearly brought an unlikely reward in the 14th minute. He ran to close down Craig Foxall as the goalkeeper cleared downfield and was struck in the side by the ball. The rebound flew past Foxall but went just wide of the goal.
In the 16th minute, Potton won a corner down their right wing. The ball was delivered into the penalty area and flicked to the far post.
Gio Palmer went to cover the United player first to the ball and was a yard away when the ball was knocked towards him. The ball struck Palmer’s lower arm or hand, which was stationary, but the referee still considered it to be handball and awarded a penalty.
Apart from a look of horror on Palmer’s face and a quiet question from captain Brewer, there was no dissention from the Hendon ranks. Sam WILLIS took responsibility for the spot-kick and smashed the ball into the bottom left corner as Marcin Brzozowski dived in the opposite direction.
There was little response from Hendon as Brooks and White looked to restore their excellent understanding with each other until the former left in the spring. After 36 and 37 minutes, as Potton grew in confidence Cole Butler and Callum Wilson tried their luck with shots.
Butler’s low shot lacked the power and direction to trouble Brzozowski. The goalkeeper, however was severely tested by Wilson, whose 35-yarder was flying towards the roof of the net until the tall goalkeeper palmed the ball into the air and gathered it when it hit the ground.
A minute later, Gordon sent a free-kick towards the far side of the penalty area. Arthur Iontton headed the ball diagonally towards the far post but it was missing the goal until WHITE diverted it into the net from a yard out.
A minute later, Brooks appeared to be knocked over in the penalty area but no penalty was awarded. Players from both sides gathered around and everything seemed to have calmed down when Blues captain Jesse Armoo suddenly became extremely agitated.
Two or three players tried to hold back their rampaging leader, but it took Foxall to stop Armoo’s momentum, wrestling him to the ground rugby-style, then holding him down for a good 10 seconds. When Armoo got to his feet, he saw the referee showing him a red card, a decision not one player appeared to dispute. Dave Diedhiou saw yellow after the incident too.
Just before half-time, Solomon Sambou curled a 20-yard shot that beat Foxall, but cannoned off the inside of the post before being cleared outside the opposite upright.
The second half was, in truth, pretty much one-way traffic. Many Hendon fans used to the struggles of the season, weren’t comfortable until the lead was pretty much insurmountable.
In the 47th minute, White met a right-wing cross and side-footed the ball past Foxall, but the ball went wide of the far post. A minute later Hendon had a lead they would never relinquish.
Palmer made a good run down the left side, released by Gordon near the half-way line. He beat a couple of defenders before driving a low cross into the middle of the penalty area. Fastest to react was Robbie BUCHANAN, and he scored his first Hendon goal with a firm side-foot from about 10 yards.
Potton had to change their game plan and they made a couple of substitutions, sending on Julinho Gomes and Jim Burnside for Niall Jones and Lil Francisco. Without Francisco and Armoo, Potton lacked a physical presence, though Burnside rather belied that thought by receiving a caution within 40 seconds of coming on.
In the 58th minute, Hendon stretched their advantage. The ball was on the edge of the penalty area when IONTTON ran onto it and drilled the ball past Foxall. Wilson had tracked back and tried to clear the ball from behind his goalkeeper, but the ball bounced off the post and into the net.
Frank Keita replaced White after an hour, his job done and, within eight minutes, he had his name on the scoresheet. Brewer won a challenge midway inside the Hendon half and spotted Keita breaking downfield.
KEITA held off Gomes’s challenge, advanced to the edge of Potton penalty area and, as Foxall came off his line to narrow the angle, he smashed the ball past the goalkeeper into the net.
Before play resumed, Josh Dawodu took over from Diedhiou, Hendon’s second change. Burnside showed a little of why he is something of a local hero by heading over the bar after 72 minutes then forcing a fine save from Brzozowski with a powerful drive.
Brewer went off to be replaced by Azeez Alabi and, two minutes later, Hendon were 5–1 up. Although looking suspiciously offside, Keita ran onto a through ball. Foxall denied him with his first attempt, but when the ball rebounded to KEITA, there was no mistake second time around.
Keita should have completed his hat-trick a few minutes later, when he again was clear in on goal. This time however, he went down without any player closer than five yards from him, clearly neither a dive nor simulation, simply a slip, though he appeared to hurt his ankle and required treatment.