Hendon came back from the shock of conceding an early goal to defeat Kingstonian in the Ryman League for the first time since March 2005 and thus keep their playoff hopes alive. Other results certainly didn't go Hendon's way, but the Greens did, nonetheless rise back to sixth in the table, one place away from the play-offs.
The Greens were able to welcome back Darren Currie, and he replaced Tom Davie in the starting line-up. It meant that there were still more than half a dozen first-choice players absent.
Kingstonian made a superb start and almost took the lead in the fifth minute when Saheed Sankoh smacked the underside of the crossbar from eight yards out. The rebound just about favoured Hendon, who were able to clear the danger.
The warning was not heeded, however, because in the 7th minute Ks took the lead. A left-wing corner was won at the far post by Tom Hutchinson and his goalbound header was blocked by a defender just before Berkley Laurencin could reach it. Sankoh was perfectly placed to bounce and, having lost his marker, slapped the ball into the net.
It was the the worst possible news for the Greens, because they have not won in the league this season after conceding the opening goal. This time, however, the response was almost immediate and they were level within 90 seconds.
The hard work was done by Currie, who pass released Isaiah Rankin. Chris Page could not stop Rankin getting round the back of him and the forward's low ball into the penalty area was swept into the net by Carl McCluskey from 10 yards out.
For the rest of the first half it seemed to be a matter of how many Hendon would score, such was the number of chances they created. Unfortunately for the Greens fans, however, that figure was zero.
Scott Cousins, who had broken his duck spectacularly in the dying minutes of the defeat against Lewes nearly made it two in a fortnight in the 14th minute with a fierce drive that flew inches over the crossbar. Then Scott Shulton could, and probably should, have claimed a hat-trick and Rankin at least a brace.
Shulton hit the underside of the crossbar after 18 minutes, forced an excellent save out of Rob Tolfrey in the 35th, then created a one-on-one with goalkeeper after an electric burst of pace took him through the Kingstonian defence. His sidefoot past Tolfrey went a yard wide of the far post.
Rankin beat the Kingstonian offside trap in the 28th minute, but he was caught in two minds when he got to the ball ahead of Tolfrey. Doing neither one thing nor the other, he lifted the ball over the goalkeeper but struck it too hard to get onto the end of it when it bounced and Ks escaped again.
In the 43rd minute, Rankin again had only Tolfrey to beat, but this time it was the goalkeeper who won out, palming aside his goalbound effort. The rebound was brilliantly cleared by Aaron Goode, but the referee rendered Goode's effort moot as he penalised Shulton as the pair chased the bouncing ball.
Elliott Godfrey also came close to a goal. His drive from a corner beat Tolfrey but went inches over the crossbar.
Before the start of the second half, Kingstonian replaced Tom Bird, who had endured a torrid afternoon, with Gary McDonald, forcing Page to move to left-back, Goode to right back, and McDonald partnered Hutchinson in the middle of the back four.
It had the desired effect for Ks because although they were now kicking into a strengthening cold breeze, they didn't allow Hendon anything like the same amount of time and space around the penalty area.
Hendon also didn't seem to be quite as effective and, for 25 minutes, it looked as if two more vital points might be slipping away. Rankin did have the ball in the net after 68 minutes, but the referee's whistle for a Kingstonian free-kick did go a second or two before the striker made contact with the ball.
The centre of the Hendon defence was asked a few more questions in the second half, but Ryan Wharton and James Parker were calmness personified as they broke up numerous attacks. Dave Diedhiou was far busier trying to subdue Sankoh and Sam Clayton than Cousins was in dealing with Luke Wanadio, who was replaced by Matt Pattison midway through the half.
Hendon then made the first of two changes with 18 minutes to go, Jack Mazzone replacing McCluskey, who had struggled to impose himself on the game after the restart.
Six minutes after Mazzone's introduction, an indication of the dominance of the Hendon defence was the withdrawal of Bobby Traynor by Kingstonian. Allan Tait was the man to come on. Thirty seconds later , in an indication of Hendon's desire to win the game, Casey Maclaren was taken off at the expense of Jerome Federico.
It proved to be an inspired move because the two substitutes were involved in Hendon's match-winner. Currie, as so often, instigated the move with a simple pass to Federico. The flying winger, who had come away from the touchline to receive the pass, played a clever diagonal ball which invited Rankin to take on Page.
The full-back was beaten easily and Rankin got close to the goal-line, just outside the six-yard box. He looked up and saw Mazzone making a run almost identical to the one made by McCluskey for the first goal. The outcome was identical, Mazzone's calm sidefoot giving Tolfrey no chance.
Although the Greens' 2-1 lead still looked safe, they really should have extended it on a number of occasions. Both Rankin and Federico tried and failed to score from acute angles after going around emergency right-back Goode, Tolfrey making a good save to deny the latter, but they were only the best of the opportunities.
The final whistle was greeted with great joy by the Hendon faithful, knowing that they still had a chance of making the playoffs for the first time in club history. It is hard to believe that the team, which had been in free-fall 12 months ago, had been able to overcome all their injuries and still have such a great season.
"I am really pleased with the win. It was an excellent all-round performance and we thoroughly deserved the victory." said a delighted Gary McCann after the game.
â€œI thought we were in control for all but the first six or seven minutes of the first half and we could have won by many more goals. But it was important that we were able to equalise so soon after conceding. I would not have wanted to have been behind as the game dragged on in the first half."