Hendon, playing in a third kit of tangerine, bounced back from the disappointment of losing at Chesham to record a superb 3-2 FA Umbro Trophy 2nd round replay victory over Worcester City at St George's Lane on Monday night.
Andy Iga came in for the ineligible Paul Newell in goal, Davis Haule took over from David Adekola up front and Gary Fitzgerald replaced Phil Gridelet as Hendon went to their preferred defensive alignment. However, it didn't look like the changes had worked in the opening moments.
Less than 70 seconds had elapsed when Mark Owen lifted a ball out to the right wing where Paul Carty was in acres of space. Iga came off his line to narrow the angle with no defender close enough to make a challenge, but CARTY lifted the ball high over the goalkeeper and it dropped into the net to give Worcester an early lead.
Five minutes later Iga needed the assistance of Paul Towler to deal with a cross, which he had dropped, but that was last time for 80 minutes he was duly bothered by the Worcester attack.
Danny McDonnell did well to deny Haule after he and Pickett had combined well. The majority of play was confined to the middle of the pitch where, in the 30th minute, a horrible clash of heads saw both Iain Duncan and Jamie Hyde leave the match and go to hospital for treatment. Duncan was able to return to the ground soon after the final whistle nursing a serious headache, but apparently fine. Hyde came off worse, needing stitches in a gashed scalp as well as suffering a concussion.
Hendon started the second half in much the same way that Worcester started the first. Haule dispossessed Nathan Jukes on the left edge of the penalty area and fired a low shot across the penalty area. It could hardly have been described as a cross given that there was no other tangerine shirt in the penalty area. This fact makes Carl HEELEY's action even stranger. The centre-half, celebrating his 300th first-team appearance, was under no pressure as he bundled the ball off a post and into his own net.
This stroke of fortune lifted Hendon and they began to dominate the action. In the 52nd minute, a wayward pass in midfield was intercepted by Simon Clarke. He slid a pass into the path of Ross Pickett, who burst clear of a defender. He found Dale Binns in the middle of the penalty area, but forced the youngster to double back to control the ball. It didn't matter as BINNS jinked to right and fired a magnificent right-foot shot into the roof of the net.
Worcester tired hard to get back into the game, but found Jon Daly, Warren Kelly, Fitzgerald and Paul Towler in uncompromising mood. Paul Adolphe, who had replaced Duncan was an ever-willing outlet on the right, backed up by Marvyn Watson, while Binns and Clarke combined with equal effect on the left. The majority of chances fell Hendon's way, but McDonnell was equal to all of them.
Watson limped off with 5 minutes to go, but Hendon were able to add the ezperience of Gridelet, which proved invaluable. In the second minute of stoppage time he passed to Clarke, who was fouled by an increasingly frustrated Worcester defender. Kelly curled the ball in and PICKETT rose to head majestically home. It was only the 3rd header Hendon had won in the Worcester penalty area over the 180+ minutes of the tie, but it made the noisy contingent of Hendon fans in the crowd of 610 breathe more easily.
It was just as well that Pickett had extended Hendon's lead, because a minute later CARTY forced the ball home for his second goal. It meant that Hendon had three more uncomfortable minutes to hang on, but Adekola replacing Daly took up some of the time and the final whistle signalled another successful night for Frank Murphy's boys.
"We were brilliant tonight," a beaming Mr Murphy said. "Every single player was superb. If we can beat Tiverton Town in Round 3 (on 13 January) we will be in the last 32 again."