Hendon manager Frank Murphy rang the changes for this Ryman League Cup at high-flying Division Three Arlesey Town at Hitchin Road on Tuesday. Only Richard Wilmot, Warren Kelly, Paul Adolphe and Dale Binns kept their places from Saturday's starting line-up, but they were still strong enough to record a 4-3 victory.
The Greens could not have made a much worse start. The defence showed its unfamiliarity with each other after just 80 seconds and Darren Lynch capitalised to give Arlesey a shock lead.
When the two teams met in a preseason friendly, it had taken the Bedfordshire team just over 2 minutes to take the lead, but they were quickly swamped. It was much the same on this night as, after 11 minutes, Bontcho Guentchev burst through the middle of a flat-footed defence and slipped the ball under Martyn Patching for the equaliser.
Three minutes later, Hendon took the lead. Marvyn Watson and David Adekola combined down the right flank, Patching came off his line and was left helpless as the ball was lifted over him. Dave Hatchett had three or four inches of height advantage of Binns, but was outjumped. Binns rightly celebrated a rare headed goal, especially as he should not, by rights, have been allowed to get close to it.
Patching's involvement in the game should have ended in the 16th minute. Guentchev knocked the ball past the goalkeeper, who tripped him up in the penalty area. It was a very clear penalty, but the referee, Mike Russell, froze and allowed play to continue. The Bulgarian was then penalised despite cleanly winning the ball from Paul Smith.
In this 30-minute purple patch, Hendon could and probably should have had 3 more goals, but only had Adekola's 39th-minute effort to show for it. He was quickest to react after Patching had palmed aside a shot from Guentchev.
Within 2 minutes, however, Arlesey got back into the game. Paul Johnson, on his first team debut, conceded a corner which he felt had come off Andy Theodosiou. The corner was curled in and as Wilmot came for the ball he was blocked off it by Lynch, who forced the ball over the line.
In the 57th minute, Hendon restored their two-goal advantage and it was Binns who did all of the hard work. He ran past two defenders across the front of the penalty area and when he saw some space, struck a low shot which a hobbling Patching made a poor effort of saving.
In the 74th minute, Curtis Warmington made a fine goalline clearance to keep Hendon's two-goal lead intact. But, in the 79th minute, Arlesey scored the goal of the game, a magnificent 20-yarder from Tony Fontenelle which flew into the roof of the net with Wilmot unable to intervene.
"It was a good workout for the boys tonight,: said a satisfied Mr Murphy. "We passed the ball well, especially in the first half. I wanted to give the squad boys a run out and it was good that players such as David Adekola, Curtis Warmington, Matt Bartholomew and Paul Johnson got 90 minutes under their belts. I thought Dale Binns and Marvyn Watson were outstanding."