Hendon finished the 2011-12 season with their biggest victory of the campaign, and largest away League tally for more than five years, with a 7-1 thumping of doomed Aveley. Whilst it was a most impressive and clinical second-half showing, the gloomy weather rather matched the mood of the Hendon players and supporters at the final whistle.
Sadly for the Greens, the final score and the result was unimportant because Wealdstone, 3-1 over Concord Rangers, Lewes, 4-2 over Harrow Borough, and Bury Town, also 7-1 over Tooting & Mitcham United, recorded the wins that ensured Hendon would finish seventh in the Ryman League Premier Division, the most points by a seventh-placed team in a 42-game season since St Albans City achieved 73 in 1993-94.
Knowing that they needed a five-goal win, plus other results to go their way, Hendon selected a very attacking line-up. James Parker, Elliott Godfrey and Carl McCluskey moved to the bench as Michael Peacock, Greg Ngoyi and Jerome Federico were given starting berths. Peacock's inclusion allowed James Fisher to become a marauding full-back and the aim was to attack Aveley from wide positions.
In truth, despite a strong wind at their backs, Hendon struggled to make an impact in the final third of the pitch for the first half-hour. Debutant Millers goalkeeper Steve Brown had to make one save, holding a swerving Fisher drive, but Berkley Laurencin also had to make one stop, a good effort to keep out a shot from Steve Demetriou.
In the 33rd minute, Hendon made the breakthrough. Isaiah Rankin and Ngoyi almost collided as they reached a Scott Shulton pass, but Rankin controlled it and stepped past the statuesque Ajinbola Olatunbosun. He was about to shoot when Brown tripped him.
Rankin kept his feet, but as he blasted the ball into the net, the referee blew his whistle, pointed to the penalty spot, and showed Brown a yellow card.
Ngoyi took responsibility for the spot-kick and it was only justice that Brown failed to keep the ball out, although he did get his both hands on the ball.
Eight minutes later, the referee went over to his assistant and then walked to the Hendon bench, to notify them that he was unable to continue. After a short stoppage Paul Faulkner, the Hendon goalkeeping coach, took the assistant referee's flag as the senior assistant took over the whistle.
Faulkner's involvement as a match official lasted only five minutes because an Aveley official was more qualified and having got changed, he took over for the second half.
As half-time scores from around the League were heard, it was clear that Hendon needed more than a miracle to snatch a play-off place. But in the Hendon dressing room, that news was not passed on - indeed, the players were told that a good second half might just bring the rewards they craved.
In the 50th minute, Scott Shulton was scythed down and Hendon had their second penalty of the afternoon. Shulton, who turned down the option of taking a spot-kick a week earlier when on a hat-trick, this time needed no second bidding and he confidently made it 2-0.
At this point Aveley caved in. Four minutes later, Darren Currie carved open the Millers' rearguard and Rankin got his name on the scoresheet from five yards out. He was a little fortunate because Sam Holloway and Brown comically collided and somehow the ball ricocheted off the pair and ended up just inside the net.
In the 58th minute, Rankin completed his double when he ran onto a through ball and slipped the ball past Brown. It was all too simple at this stage and every single Hendon attack looked likely to bring a goal.
Rankin completed a seven-minute hat-trick, one of the quickest in Hendon history, when he finished off the next move in the 63rd minute. Once again, he scored only because he beat a team-mate to reach the ball with the home defence AWOL.
Elliotts Charles and Godfrey came on for Shulton and Ngoyi, just to give the beleaguered Aveley defence a different sort of problem to deal with. Well, with Charles, they had no answer because the Grenadian international had scored within two minutes of coming on.
Hendon then had a third penalty shout when Liam Thomas's sliding challenge felled Scott Cousins, but this time the decision didn't go Hendon's way.
Then, in the 74th minute, out of nothing, and probably in a large part due to the increasingly difficult pitch - it rained heavily all afternoon, with a strong wind blowing down the hill too - the Millers were awarded a spot-kick for handball.
Striker Kayan Kalipha - who spent a barren month on loan at Hendon in September 2008 - had just come on as an Aveley substitute, but he was entrusted with the penalty, though his body language suggested he was a far from willing taker. His effort backed up his lack of confidence and Laurencin, having guessed correctly, was able to make a comfortable save.
But Aveley did get a goal in the 81st minute, certainly helped by the conditions. A right-wing corner was blown goalwards in the breeze and Thomas was able to head the ball into the net having got in front of Laurencin.
There were no celebrations from the home players or fans. They knew it was the scantest of consolations.
Fittingly, on a day of complete domination, the last word belonged to Hendon. In the first of two minutes of stoppage time Federico attacked down the left wing. He got inside Holloway with ease and had only Brown to beat.
Unselfishly, he laid the ball square across the six-yard line into the path of Godfrey, who struck it into the net.
Hendon manager Gary McCann said, "I can't help but feel disappointment at the moment. Maybe, in a couple of weeks time, I'll be able to look back at our achievements and be proud of what we did this season.
"I honestly believe that if we hadn't been blighted with so many injuries and for so long, we would have been battling for the title in the last few weeks, not the playoffs.
"There hasn't been one really outstanding side in the Ryman League Premier Division this season, but I believe we might have been that outstanding team if it wasnâ€™t for those injuries: Lee O'Leary has missed the whole season, Elliott Brathwaite, played just once, Jamie Busby has played only a few times since late October, Kevin and Casey Maclaren both were sidelined for long periods, as were James Fisher, Elliott Charles and Greg Ngoyi.
"As for the match, we struggled to come to terms with the conditions in the first half, but we were very positive in the dressing room and asked the players for one last effort. The second 45 minutes were excellent and I couldn't have asked for more from any of the players - indeed from the whole squad."