Hendon's interest in the FA Trophy this season - as with 2006-07 - lasted just a single game as they fell 2-1 at AFC Wimbledon on Saturday afternoon. It certainly didn't help the Greens that they were missing half a dozen players due to injury, suspension and traffic, but the game was there for the winning.
Wayne O'Sullivan, Brian Haule and Craig Vargas joined Casey Maclaren and Ben Hudell on the sidelines, while Davis Haule was again on the substitutes bench. A new-look line-up included Lubomir Guentchev and Daragh Duffy along with the restored James Burgess and Daniel Dyer. Richard Wilmot also returned between the sticks.
The first chance fell to the AFC Dons in the fifth minute. An excellent passing move opened things up for Tony Finn. He went around Wilmot and, although with a tight angle, had most of the goal to aim at. Opting for power instead of placement, he fired over the bar.
For the next 30 minutes, it was all Hendon. Belal Aiteouakrim's running at the home defence had them at sixes and sevens, while Rakatahr Hudson and Jamie Busby had control of the heart of midfield.
In the 16th minute, the Greens put together a fine passing move. The ball ended up at the feet of Aiteouakrim. He controlled it, turned past Jason Goodliffe and drilled a left-foot shot beyond Andy Little's dive into the bottom corner. It was a fine goal, greeted with near silence by most of the 1,238 crowd, who had done little to lift their team in the opening quarter of an hour.
Under pressure during the next 15 minutes, the crowd stayed silent and there was a distinct air of discomfort whenever Duffy, Dean Green or Aiteouakrim moved into attacking positions. It should be said, however, that having worked themselves into good positions, Hendon did not trouble Little often.
Out of the blue, in the 31st minute, AFC Dons drew level. They won a left wing corner and when the ball was played in, no green-shirted player followed Goodliffe's run and he had the simple task of side-footing ball past Wilmot from eight yards out.
Having got back into the game, the Dons began to play with a little more confidence. Finn was well marshalled by Burgess, while James Parker and Marc Leach held their own against Daniel Webb and new signing Mark De Bolla. Wilmot made a good save low by his right post to deny Sam Hatton.
Three minutes before half-time, Wimbledon scored what turned out to their winning goal. It came from the penalty spot, a kick converted by De Bolla, who shot to his right as Wilmot dived the other. It was a harsh but correct decision against Hendon in general and Dyer in particular.
A ball was played in from the right wing and took a deflection. It spun up and turned like a spiteful leg break as Dyer tried to chest the ball down. Instead, however, the ball cannoned off Dyer's stationary arm and bounced down near his feet. There was no intent to use the hand or arm by Dyer, but the referee had little alternative but to give the spot-kick given the advantage Dyer gained from the bounce of the ball.
Unfortunately, the second half was pretty dire fare. Hendon struggled to make inroads against Antony Howard and Goodliffe. More importantly, the AFC Dons began to run the midfield.
Midway through the half, Jake Leberl and Hatton tried their luck with 30 yard shots, but Wilmot was equal to them. Webb and De Bolla then emulated Finn by missing the target with almost all of it unguarded.
In the last ten minutes, Davis Haule, Gonzia Arkadiusz and former AFC Don Rob Ursell were introduced, but the Wimbledon defence held firm. At least they did so until the game moved into stoppage.
Hendon then forced a corner. It was swung in from the left side and directed perfectly for Leach. He had a free header from eight yards and would almost certainly have scored had he hit the target. Instead the ball cleared the crossbar by a foot and as the ball bounced on the roof of the net, so ended Hendon's challenge.
"For most of the first half we were completely on top," said manager Gary McCann, "but two individual errors gave them goals. Our goal was the result of brilliant football, but their two were gifts. In the second half, however, we didn't play very well."