Hendon eased their way into the third round qualifying with a first half blitz and second half stroll against near neighbours Wingate & Finchley. With the nation marking the funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on Monday, the draw for the Emirates FA Cup third round qualifying was delayed until Tuesday.
There was just one change to the team which beat Potton United two weeks earlier, the Greens’ last outing, Tommy Brewer dropping to the bench and Tarik Moore-Azille replacing him.
Hendon made a bright start and they had three good scoring chances within 60 seconds in the seventh minute. A good ball from the right wing was helped towards the left side of the penalty area where it fell to Arthur Iontton, but his goalbound shot was blocked bravely by Dernell Wynter.
Wingate & Finchley couldn’t clear the danger and Liam Brooks was denied by an excellent Ben Goode save. On the next phase of the attack, Gio Palmer’s excellent cross almost found with Dave Diedhiou, coming in late beyond the far post, but he just failed to divert the ball into the unguarded net.
Diedhiou, however, would not be denied after 14 minutes. The Greens forced a left-wing corner, taken by Rhodell Gordon, and DIEDHIOU managed to lose his marker before heading home powerfully from 10 yards out.
It 20 minutes for the Blues to put the Greens under sustained pressure. Kavan Cotter forced Marcin Brzozowski to make a low save from a 25-yard strike, but the ball was hit directly at the goalkeeper.
A minute later, Elliot Long tried his luck and his effort required much more from Brzozowski, but the Pole equal to the challenge, push the ball aside for a corner. In the 26th minute, the Greens failed to deal with another corner and in the scramble, two attempts were blocked close to the goal-line before the danger was cleared.
Ten minutes before half-time, Robbie Buchanan lost a challenge just outside the penalty area, but it went straight to Brooks, who quickly sent the ball to Joe White and he released BUCHANAN who beat the offside trap before knocking the ball past Goode.
On the stroke of half-time, Dave Diedhiou intercepted a pass and looked up to see Brooks calling for the ball. The pass opened the Wingate & Finchley defence and Brooks sent the ball into the path of WHITE, who beat the offside trap before confidently slotting the ball past the advancing Goode.
On balance, Hendon were definitely deserved half-time leaders, though a three-goal advantage probably was a little flattering. It meant that the Greens were in a comfortable position and it was noticeable that there was much less urgency to their attacking moves.
The Blues really did little to inconvenience Hendon with over-eager forwards often falling foul of offside flags (both teams had seen first half “goals” denied by the upraised arm of the referee’s assistants and blow of the referee’s whistle). However, a moment of defensive clumsiness offered the Blues a way back into the game.
After 61 minutes when a needless mistimed challenge in the box gave Wingate & Finchley a penalty. Dylan Kearney, briefly a Hendon player in 2018, converted the spot kick without fuss the ball speeding past Brzozowski as the goalkeeper dived the wrong way.
Nervous Hendon fans expected an upsurge in Blues pressure, but it really didn’t happen. Solomon Sambou and Iontton were effective in stifling Wingate & Finchley in midfield, while the wide outlets of Buchanan and Gordon made there was little in the way of dangerous moves starting out wide, especially as Diedhiou and Palmer were rarely bested closer to the Greens goal.
Demuria limped off with an injury after 72 minutes, and Buchanan was withdrawn at the same time. In their places came Brewer and Bobson Bawling, the former picking up a yellow card for an off-the-ball comment a couple of minutes after coming on.
By then, Brzozowski had made a spectacular save, pushing a flicked diving header from Long off the far post. It was, in reality, pretty much the Blues’ only decent goalscoring opportunity after the penalty.
When Palmer picked up a knock and had to be replaced by Josh Dawodu, Hendon had used their three substitutes and there were a dozen minutes, plus plenty of stoppage time, remaining. It didn’t matter because Dawodu, Brewer and Bowling were pretty much like-for-like changes and the only fear was another injury occurring.
In terms of chances, the final few minutes saw Hendon create quite a few, none of which they were able to take. A good run from Brooks ended with a misplaced pass to Bawling when a shot might have been the better option
In the 88th minute, White fired wide from an acute angle after Gordon had decided not to shoot. A minute later, Goode was nearly embarrassed by a quick free-kick from Brewer.
The centre-back, close to the halfway line, spotted the goalkeeper was organising the defence standing in the ‘D’ of his penalty area so he shot at goal from 50-odd yards away. Goode back-pedalled furiously and got to the ball close to the post.
Holding a two-goal lead and seeing five minutes flashed on the additional time board is often a source of nervous trepidation for a team struggling to get results, but it wasn’t the case this time, because Wingate & Finchley appeared to have accepted their fate and Hendon played out the extra minutes without any real alarms.