Hendon went out of the Ryman League Cup on Thursday night when Chesham United snatched a last-minute winner at LOOT Stadium.
With both teams less than enamoured with the "reward" for winning the game, a quarter-final tie away at Heybridge Swifts, it became a squad fixture for them. Only Gary Fitzgerald and Bontcho Guentchev of outfield starters from Tuesday kept their places and Fitzgerald's place was probably only due to the unavailability through injury of Pat Sappleton and Richard Dee's lack of 100 percent fitness. The only other players with regular first-team expectations were goalkeeper Gary McCann and strikers Ross Pickett and Dale Binns. Chesham were equally understrength, though the Generals' line-up seemed to have a little more experience.
The first chance of the game fell to Ross Pickett, whose deflected shot was brilliantly turned away by Chris Tullett. From the resulting corner Scott Canham's attempted clearance, under pressure from Pickett, crashed off the underside of the crossbar and was hacked away to safety.
In the 29th minute, Chesham seemed to have taken the lead when a shot flew past McCann, but assistant referee Mr M Favell spotted a player in an offside position. Referee Mr T Conn (Herts), discussed the incident with Mr Favell before disallowing the goal, much the anger of not only the Chesham players, but also the bench, where former Hendon boss Bob Dowie was very vocal.
Chesham didn't have to wait long for a legitimate goal. A cross from Dereck Brown finding right wing-back Craig FARLEY alone in the penalty area. He had time to pick his spot and knocked the ball into the bottom corner. Things got worse for Hendon after 36 minutes, when Guentchev picked up an injury and he limped off, to be replaced by Jason Donlon.
The equaliser arrived in the last minute of the half. Paul Johnson sent over a teasing cross which was hung up in the wind. Tullett came for the ball but almost landed on Binns after claiming the ball. The collision knocked the ball loose and BINNS was quickest to react, turning and firing into the net.
Chesham had slightly the better of the second half but Dudley "DJ" Campbell and Yemi Abiodun were guilty of wasting some good chances. Their profligacy looked as if it would cost them dearly when Johnson's 61st minute free-kick was met by BINNS, whose header just in front of Tullett directed the ball into the net.
In the 72nd minute, more fine work for Binns should have led to Hendon's third goal, but Isaac Cole was far too lackadaisical in his attempted finish. Tullett still made a fine save to deny the striker a goal. Within a minute, CAMPBELL atoned for some of his earlier misses by taking advantage of some hesitancy in the Hendon penalty area with a good finish. In December, Campbell had proved to be a real thorn in Hendon's side when the teams had met at The Meadow in the Ryman League. Former Harrow Borough and Dover man David Clarke should have set up a winner for Abiodun in the 81st minute, but he somehow shot wide from 6 yards in front of the goal.
Neither team really wanted extra-time, and a replay would have created even more of a fixture backlog especially for Hendon. So there was almost an air of relief when former Hendon midfielder Dereck BROWN - who played for England while at Woking in 1994 - settled the tie in Chesham's favour with no more than 40 seconds to go in stoppage time.