Hendon's magical Centenary season took another huge turn for the better on Saturday as the Greens comprehensively outplayed Staines Town to return to a playoff position. If the Greens beat Wealdstone at Claremont Road on Saturday, then they will occupy the fourth and final playoff spot.
To put this result into perspective, Staines had picked up 22 points out 24 from their last eight Ryman League Premier Division games and hadn't lost at home this year - apart, of course, from Hendon's Middlesex Senior Cup victory at Wheatsheaf Park in January.
James Parker returned to the team in place of the injured Jamie Busby and Brian Haule was fit enough to go on the bench, with Bontcho Guentchev missing out.
Staines, who had been down to Folkestone twice in midweek; scoring three times in the final five minutes on Wednesday to win a game in which they had been trailing - were also without their leading goalscorer and also left the prolific Elliot Onochie on the bench. Without those two forwards, the Swans were lacking in offensive punch.
That said, the opening 15 minutes were dominated by the home team. Richard Butler and Dean Thomas both fired wide from good positions and Howard Newton was denied by a smart save from Richard Wilmot. Andre Scarlett then fired wastefully over.
With what was only their second attack of note, Hendon took the lead. In the 18th minute, Lee O'Leary passed diagonally into the path of Davis Haule, who took a touch to get around Marien Ifura and struck a low drive beyond the dive of James Courtnage.
Apart from the obvious confidence swing a goal brings, it is hard to understand how Staines faded so dramatically. Wilmot made a good save from Marc Charles-Smith a couple of minutes later and was grateful to see James Burgess throw himself in front of a drive from Lewis Cook. But they were the only other opportunities the Swans created in the first half.
Belal Aiteouakrim had a valid penalty appeal turned down as he appeared to be dragged away from the ball by Danny Gordon as he tried to reach a Lubo Guentchev free-kick.
In the 35th minute there was a frightening moment for Hendon when Danny Dyer got around Jake Newton and crossed for Davis Haule. The big striker couldn't keep his header low enough to go under the crossbar, but he hit the post with his head. One wag mused that the post might need intensive care as Davis Haule returned to the fray and brother Brian sat back down on the bench.
In the second half, with the weather deteriorating, Hendon exerted a stranglehold on the game. O'Leary, Dyer, Jack Page and Lubo Guentchev took over the midfield and Staines had no answer. They were reduced hugely inaccurate long-range efforts, on from Scarlett was probably three yards high and eight yards wide of the angle of post and crossbar as it crossed the goalline.
Midway through the second half, Leigh Mason and Marcel Nugent took over from Scarlett and Jon McDonald, the latter who, under no real pressure, had screwed three consecutive passes out of play. Onochie then replaced Cook, but the changes failed to make a difference, because Parker, Burgess, Marc Leach and Sam Page totally dominated the defence. Wilmot, meanwhile, must have been as surprised as he was delighted to have so little to do.
Hendon had a couple of half-chances, Guentchev harshly earning a yellow card for simulation as he put an just effort wide. His fall may have been theatrical, but he was clearly pressurised by Jake Newton, who did make contact with him in trying to put him off. It seemed a fair challenge, but a few home fans thought the contact had merited a penalty.
He then tried his luck from distance and Courtnage made a smart low save. Both Haule and Aiteouakrim came close to adding to the Hendon lead but through balls just eluded them and bounced into Courtnage's arms, carried on by the wind.
The game was decided in the 80th minute. Hendon launched another attack and Dyer, instead of crossing into the penalty area, rolled the ball back across the edge of box, right into path of Jack Page. The youngster didn't try to smash the ball, but his low effort struck Gordon on the arm and wrong-footed Courtnage before bouncing into the bottom corner.
With the game just about safe, Hendon made a couple of time-wasting changes, Brian Haule and Ben Hudell coming on for Aiteouakrim and Dyer.
As the game moved into stoppage time, Brian Haule had a great chance to make it 3-0, but Courtnage denied him with a brave save. Staines then broke to the other end and Wilmot made a good save from Onochie, before Burgess blocked the rebound from Charles-Smith.
"It was a great result," said manager Gary McCann. "We weren't at the races in the first 20 minutes and our first goal was against the run of play.
"But once we were in front, we were really good value for money and it was one of our most professional performances of the season. I want again to pay tribute to the players for all the effort they have put in over the season.
"I did think that results might come for us because the two teams above us had tough fixtures. We have two cup finals this week and if we can win them, the players will have got the rewards their efforts deserve: a trophy and the playoffs."