Hendon and AFC Hornchurch produced an excellent afternoon's entertainment in the e.on sponsored FA Cup at Claremont Road on Saturday, the match ending in a 1-1 draw. The prize for the winners, announced in Monday's draw for the third qualifying round - a home tie against Ryman League Division One South Dulwich Hamlet - makes Tuesday night's replay at Bridge Avenue an even bigger game, offering real hope of a fourth qualifying round appearance.
The Greens were unchanged for a second consecutive game, but Ben Hudell's injury sustained against Ramsgate meant that Junior Adeoye came back onto an otherwise identical bench.
The two teams had met in a Ryman League match at the start of September with Hendon coming out on top, but only after riding their luck in the opening 35 minutes. This game's first half was very similar except for the fact that Hendon didn't score in the opening period.
An early chance came Hendon's way, but Dale Brightly was quickly off his line to save Brian Haule's acutely-angled shot. Most of the action, however, was at the other end.
After six minutes, the Urchins had the ball in the Hendon net. A shot from David Lee took a slight deflection, making Richard Wilmot's somewhat harder. The goalkeeper got down well enough, but the high bounce meant he could only parry the ball rather than grasp it.
Simon Parker and Harry Elmes were the two quickest to react, and it was the former who stroked the ball into the net. The reason for their advanced position was explained by the assistant referee, whose raised flag suggested that - in his opinion - they had been in an offside position when the ball was struck and they became active as they ran onto the rebound.
The Hornchurch goal came when Elmes, after 22 minutes, ran onto a through ball from Simon Parker and the Hendon defence could do little more than watch the striker shooting low just inside the post.
Galvanised by the goal, Hornchurch went searching for more. Simon Parker, however, was not having a good day with his decision-making and on more than one occasion took the wrong option, either shooting, passing or crossing when another choice could well have led to another goal. Marc Leach, James Burgess and Vargas, as well as James Parker all made important blocks, while Jamie Busby and Rakatahr Hudson were forced to assist the defence more than the attack.
Gradually, however, Busby and Hudson took more of a hold of midfield, certainly helped by an injury to Lee, which reduced his effectiveness. He came out worse from a crunching tackle with Busby - but it was nothing more than two equally committed players arriving simultaneously at a loose ball and it was certainly not a foul.
Just before half-time, Davis Haule tried a long-range shot which might have taken a slight deflection. It forced Brightly to make a smart save.
Hendon's equaliser arrived within two minutes of the restart. A free-kick from inside the Hendon half was knocked towards the penalty area where Davis Haule won an aerial challenge. His flicked header bounced down for brother Brian to run onto and his delicate lob was too much for Brightly.
The second period belonged to Hendon in much the same way as the first had been Hornchurch's, although there were not as many good openings for the Greens. Much of that was down to some solid defending from John Purdie and Andy Tomlinson, not the tallest of players, but nonetheless very competent.
Dean Green, who had a very industrious afternoon almost finished off a superb flowing move after 63 minutes, but he had to lean back to make contact the ball and could not keep it down. On the other flank, Wayne O'Sullivan was a constant thorn in the Urchins side, but they did well to deny him shooting opportunities.
In the final ten minutes, it became clear that another goal would be decisive and Hornchurch were happy to let Hendon force the pace and then attack on the counter. But they were furious when Elmes was ruled offside, although Mark Janney was running onto a loose ball from an onside position and had a clear run at goal. Janney's comments to the officials earned him a yellow card.
In the final couple of minutes Wilmot made a good low save from a Janney shot and Elmes blasted over from well inside the penalty spot. It would, in truth, have been an injustice if either team had triumphed on the afternoon.
Hendon manager Gary McCann said, "If we had played the first half as did the second half we would have won today. But a draw was the right result."