Hendon consolidated their top-five status as all the closest chasing teams behind them dropped points. The Greens' 1-0 win at Leatherhead on Saturday left the Tanners four points adrift of safety as the top-placed relegation-zone team, while Hendon are now three points clear of sixth-placed Bury Town, though the Suffolk side have a couple of games in hand.
Kevin and Casey Maclaren and James Parker were replaced by Jamie Busby, Carl McCluskey and skipper Scott Cousins, repectively, from the starting eleven which played at Billericay Town on Monday night, while fit-again Elliott Charles was on the bench, though eventually not used.
In their halcyon days of the early to mid 1970s, Leatherhead's home match against Hendon would have been a much-anticipated clash, featuring two heavyweights of the Isthmian League. Instead, this was the Greens' first League visit to Fetcham Grove for almost exactly 29 years, Hendon having remained in the Premier Division throughout the intervening decades, while the Tanners had dropped - albeit briefly - as low as the third tier of the League.
Although the pitch looked good, the surface was unsurprisingly much harder to play on - the snow and thaw of the previous few days, plus a midweek match having seen to that. Two heavy squalls of rain during the match did nothing improve the conditions, though it was the Tanners who looked the more comfortable on it, especially in the early going.
Hendon's frustration was obvious from the earliest exchanges. A free-kick was awarded against Elliott Godfrey for a foul even before Darren Currie could take a corner. The referee had already warned players he was watching for fouls and Godfrey's protests as he retreated for the restart earned him a long lecture, but not a caution.
Mu Maan, who had started the season with Leatherhead but had spent most of the campaign at Metropolitan Police before returning to the Tanners in the past month, was at the heart of the Leatherhead prompting. He tried to release another new signing, Harry Ottaway, but the former Merstham front man found the ball skidding away from him and Ryan Wharton was able to shepherd the ball out for a goal kick.
From a rare Hendon raid, Michael Lewis did exceptionally well down the right wing and his cross caused consternation in the home defence. Chico Ramos started to come for the ball but it was headed half clear by Dan Dean and he was fortunate that no yellow shirt was able to pounce.
Hendon had a big escape in the 31st minute when a Maan swung a deliberately lazy boot at a short pass to him and looped the ball over Berkley Laurencin. The Greens' goalkeeper was grateful to watch the dipping ball strike the crossbar and bounce away where James Fisher was able to complete a clearance.
Maan's next effort, a couple of minutes later, was a low shot which Laurencin saved with a degree of comfort, and he was careful to ensure he got his whole body behind it. His next save was a little easier, as Billy Manners' strike lacked both power and direction.
Shortly after, Busby was shown a yellow card when he moved to stop a quick free-kick being taken. Even though some fans felt the booking was harsh, as the ball was moving, the referee correctly deemed the midfielder to be guilty of unsporting play, consistently applying this against Leatherhead late in the second half.
At the start of the second half, Leatherhead created two good scoring opportunities, but neither Ottaway nor Manners were able to put their shots on target when they were in excellent positions. The groans around the ground suggested this was a normal outcome and the home fans soon began to express their frustration at the Tanners' forward futility.
Having enjoyed those two escapes, Hendon began to exert some control of the game and, in the final 40 minutes, there was going to be only one winner. In the 52nd minute, McCluskey got his head to a free-kick and sent it inches wide of the far post. Dave Diedhiou lunged in just beyond the far post but couldn't get a touch on the ball to divert it goalwards where the post was unguarded.
Just past the hour mark, the Greens made a double change, Michael Lewis and Busby making way for Isaiah Rankin and Casey Maclaren. Maclaren's midfield strength against a tiring Tanners team, certainly helped the Hendon cause and Maan's influence diminished significantly.
In the 67th minute, a rasping volley from Elliott Godfrey flew inches over the crossbar with Ramos well beaten. Two minutes later, a superb cross from Cousins was only half-cleared, but McCluskey couldn't turn home the loose ball.
He seemed to hurt himself in this attempt and he was replaced by Jerome Federico for the final quarter of an hour. This was a cruel move by the Hendon bench because the young flyer gave Adam Gross a torrid time.
His first run ended with a cross that was headed out for a corner before Greg Ngoyi could reach it. Leatherhead were able to clear the set piece, but their nerves were jangling.
With nine minutes of normal time remaining, Federico made another dangerous burst towards the Leatherhead goal. This time Gross's challenge appeared to be illegal and inside the penalty area but the referee looked to his better sighted assistant who only signalled for a throw-in, much the the consternation of the travelling support.
The next time Federico ran at Gross, the defender left nothing to chance, clattering him to the ground outside the penalty area and earning himself a booking. From the free-kick Casey Maclaren saw a header fly inches wide of the target.
Ramos then found himself brought into action to keep his clean sheet intact. Another fine run and cross from Cousins resulted in the ball landing at Ngoyi's feet just a few yards out. The striker drilled the ball goalwards, only to see it deflct off Ramos' well planted foot and away.
The Tanners were now desperate for the final whistle because a goal seemed inevitable - if time permitted. It did. In the 88th minute, Rankin, who had been bundled over three times without getting a free-kick for his buffeting, collected a short pass from Currie just outside the penalty area.
He ran across the "D" of the penalty area looking for an opening to shoot and, when he got level with the right upright, he got it. Three defenders had come across to close him down, but one was behind Rankin and the other two came from inside the penalty area.
As a result, RANKIN's low right-foot drive arrowed just inside the opposite post. Even if he had been given a clear sight of the ball, it is unlikely Ramos would have been able to reach the shot.
There were almost four minutes of added time after the 90 were up, but Leatherhead looked a beaten side. A few long balls forward were overstruck and seen out to safety for a goal kick or resulted in an easy, uncontested pick-up for Laurencin.
Hendon manager Gary McCann said, "I though the first half was our worst 45 minutes for a long time. But we were much better in the second half.
"In the last 15 minutes there was going to be only one winner. I am really pleased with the way that we grafted the win.
"We really missed Kevin Maclaren today. He has been outstanding for us in recent games."