Hendon put the disappointment of Saturday's draw at home to Grays with a superb demolition of a poor Harrow Borough side at Earlsmead on Boxing Day afternoon. The final score of 4-1 rather flattered the home team, who could point to just one 15-minute spell at the start of the second half when they were remotely on top.
With Ross Pickett absent injured, joining a worrying list which now includes Jason Soloman, Curtis Warmington and Marvyn Watson, Phil Gridelet returned to the side in midfield, where he was magnificent, especially in the first half. Dale Binns was given a more central striking role, but all these plans were scuppered after just 10 minutes, when Gary Fitzgerald limped off.
This led to another reshuffle, with Simon Clarke joining Paul Towler and Warren Kelly in the back three, and Binns dropping back to left wing-back opposite Iain Duncan. David Adekola came on and took a central striking role. It took 15 minutes for the new formation to come to terms with their new responsibilities, but once understood, Harrow were blown away.
The engine room of skipper Jon Daly and Gridelet absolutely ran the show and Harrow's nervous defence looked uncomfortable every time either Davis Haule or Adekola got the ball. They also forgot to mark them when they weren't in possession.
In the 27th minute, Haule collected the ball on the right wing. He had two defenders attempting to stop him, but their efforts were futile. Haule delivered a teasing cross which was directed perfectly for ADEKOLA, whose downward header was not as authoritative as it might have been, but James Robinson dived over the ball as it skipped into the net.
Two minutes later, Paul Adolphe knocked a hopeful ball down the inside left channel. It appeared to be overhit, but was slowed by the bitterly cold wind blowing into the Hendon players' faces. Nevertheless, it should have been an easy ball for Robinson to collect, but he hesitated too long and allowed Haule to get there first. He squared the ball across the penalty area to ADOLPHE, who steadied himself before stroking the ball between Oliver Lyons' legs as the defender tried to cover on the goalline.
Harrow's defence was at sixes and sevens every time Hendon went forward and it was no surprise when the Greens extended their lead, on the stroke of half-time. Clarke and Binns linked up down the left wing, although their passing was not particularly crisp. Andy Rose and Otis Roberts both attempted to make tackles but ended up in ungainly heaps on the floor.
Binns then attempted to cross the ball but mishit it. Danny Nwaokolo had a reasonably simple clearance but he somehow connected with nothing but air and also ended up on the seat of his pants. The next Harrow player to hit the ground was Robinson, but he was diving in vain as he tried to stop ADEKOLA's 20-yard shot, the striker having suddenly found the ball at his feet and no upright defender close to him.
Harrow came out for the second half with much more purpose - Otis Roberts and Nikolaj Lund were unceremoniously removed in favour the veteran David Howell and Oliver Peterson - but their first two attacks were rather lacking in direction. However, in the 54th minute, a more purposeful raid ended with Derek PAYNE firing past Paul Newell to reduce the arrears. Another Harrow goal and all Hendon's good work would be undone.
Hendon fans, thinking back to the team's 4-1 defeat at Chesham 10 days earlier, were hoping that this revival would follow that of the Dons on that day, when the home side scored a fourth goal. Their wishes were granted in fantastic style, in the 63rd minuite.
A long downfield kick found Haule marked closely by Howell. The striker had his back to goal, but somehow worked an opening. He looked up and spotted Robinson 10 yards off his line, though probably didn't notice the unmarked Adekola on the edge of the penalty area. HAULE's delicate 25-yard chip was just high enough to defeat the goalkeeper's leap, although he did get a touch to it.
This fourth goal proved to be the killer blow. Although Harrow had a couple of half chances, they looked a dispirited outfit. In the 89th minute, Adekola burst down middle and fired a low shot which whistled past the far post. Going for his hat-trick, he could be forgiven for not setting up Haule for what would have been a tap-in. A minute later, a desperation tackle on Haule sent the ball out to Adekola, whose rasping drive was brilliantly parried by Robinson.
"We had to change things around a bit when Fitzgerald went off," admitted delighted manager Frank Murphy. "It worked well and we were very good this afternoon."