Hendon and Kettering Town met for the third time in eleven days on Tuesday night, but this time the venue was the Poppies Rockingham Road ground. The pulsating cup tie went all the way, ending in a victory on penalties for Kettering after they had equalised in the dying seconds of the second half.
Hendon made two changes to the team that took the field on Saturday afternoon, with Iain Duncan replacing the injured Mark Cooper, and Andre Delisser replacing Dave Hunt, who took his place on the bench. Kettering made just the one change to their starting line up with Andy Lodge returning from suspension to replace Ian King, who had picked up a hamstring strain on Saturday.
It was the home team that took first blood in the 6th minute when a cross from the right wing found Lodge completely unmarked and he fired the ball home clinically.
However, the goal spurred Hendon into life and within 75 seconds they had equalised. The ball was sent down the left wing by Scott Cousins to Ricci Crace who came inside his marker, moved the ball onto his favoured right foot and shot low at the near post much to the delight of the 30 or so travelling supporters.
A couple of minutes after the equaliser Jason Turner forced Hendon keeper Dave King into a good save, and shortly afterwards Mark Burgess made a crucial tackle on Turner after he had been sent clear by Eliot Paschalis.
Hendon picked up two bookings for late challenges within the first half, Delisser and Antony Howard both seeing yellow. In the 28th minute Hendon took the lead.
A free kick from Kettering, which came as a result of Howard's cautionable tackle, was cleared by the Hendon defence to Andre Delisser who then sent the ball over the top of the Kettering defence for Eugene Ofori to run on to. Ofori's first touch took the ball away from the defender and created the space for him to send a delicious lob over Paul Pettinger into the far corner of the net.
Kettering were dealt a further blow in the 35th minute when influential captain Craig Norman was stretchered off with what appeared to be a nasty hamstring strain. Delroy Gordon came on in his place. Two minutes later Wayne Diuk sent a dangerous looking cross across the Hendon goalmouth but no one was able to connect and the ball went harmlessly out for a goal kick.
Two minutes into the second half came Hendon's first chance to extend the lead when Delisser sent a cross over the Kettering goal area but it was overhit and bounced away to safety. Three minutes later King was forced into another good save from a Michael Boyle-Chong shot.
For much of the second half the two sides once again cancelled each other out, with little in the way of chances at either end. Hendon's best chance came in the 64th minute when Andy Cook met a Duncan cross with a bullet header that flew over the bar. The best goalscoring chance for the home side came with four minutes to go when the ball was cleared off the line by the Hendon defence.
As the game moved deep into stoppage time, Hendon were close to victory as a Boyle-Chong shot was deflected out for a corner. The ball was floated into the danger area, and it was former Hendon loan striker Paul Fewings that bundled the ball home to deal the Greens a sucker punch. The referee brought normal time to a close within seconds of the restart.
The first drama of extra time came after five minutes when Hendon were dealt a blow when Steve Butler was carried off with an injury. To his credit, he limped back onto the field as all three substitutions had been made and swapped places with Pat Gavin to play up front for sheer nuisance value to the Kettering defence.
Hendon had a couple of half chances in the first period of extra time with both Martin Randall and Duncan firing wide from long range. Kettering were not without their chances, but the Hendon defence consisting of Howard, Gavin and Burgess held firm.
In the first minute of the second period, Cousins went into a two footed challenge with a Kettering player. Much to the astonishment of Hendon and Kettering supporters alike, the challenge went completely unchallenged by the inconsistent referee, despite being much worse than other challenges earlier in the game that had been punished with yellow cards.
Again both sides had a handful of half chances to win the game, Hendon's best coming from Randall and Cook. The second period ended with the scores still level, and so the game entered the penalty shootout.
Both sides scored their first two penalties, Cousins and Burgess netting for Hendon, before the experienced Garry Butterworth missed for Kettering only for Pat Gavin to see his penalty saved by Pettinger. Both sides scored their fourth and fifth penalties, Dave Hunt and Randall finding the net for the Greens, and the shootout became sudden death.
Richard Graham stepped up for Kettering and finished clincally, and all the pressure was then on Hendon's Andy Cook. He stepped up, but fired his penalty at a height which meant that Pettinger was able to make a comfortable save, and Hendon's FA Trophy dreams were over for another season.
It should be said that neither side deserved to lose this tie. It was closely fought throughout and there was not a lot to pick between the sides. At the end of the day it was Kettering that held their nerve in the penalty shoot out, and they will go on to entertain Woking in the next round of the competition.