Hendon scored an 87t--minute goal to snatch victory at the end of an intriguing and entertaining match against Bognor Regis Town at Earlsmead on Monday evening. It was almost to be expected that two of the Ryman League's most potent attacks and the top-10's least solid defences would have trouble making a breakthrough.
Tony Taggart and Leon Smith were given places on the bench with Dave Diedhiou and Michael Murray starting instead. Bognor's leading scorer, Terry Dodd, was not 100 percent fit, so was named only as a substitute, significantly reducing their attacking effectiveness.
A sudden downpour, as the players were about to walk onto the Earlsmead pitch, didn't help anyone, making the surface very slick. At least the rain didn't last long, but it explained why there was little of note in the opening 20 minutes.
Dave Diedhiou had the first chance, latching onto a deep cross from Jack Bennett. He brought the ball under control and fired at goal, only to be denied by an athletic, but not particularly difficult save from Grant Smith.
Almost immediately, Bognor came close to profiting from a lucky rebound. A pass from Kevin Maclaren towards Bennett struck the referee and fell perfectly for Kane Wills, who needed no second bidding to run into the space created.
He found himself in a good shooting position and fired at goal. Joe McDonnell was perfectly placed and he made a comfortable save low down.
The end-to-end nature continued and, from Hendon's next attack, Lee O'Leary fired inches wide of the goal from a good position. Nick Awford then delivered a powerful low cross which McDonnell handled confidently.
Two more good chances came Hendon's way and Casey Maclaren when close with a powerful header from a corner. He could not, however, keep the ball down and it went just over the crossbar.
Anthony Thomas really should have given Hendon the lead in the 32nd minute, when he was given a clear sight of goal. His drive beat the exposed Smith, but went a foot wide of the goalkeeper's left upright. Murray then fired just over the crossbar with a 20-yard attempt.
Six minutes before half-time, Bognor were forced to make a change when Dan Kempson took over from Awford, who had taken a knock a few minutes earlier. More defensive than Awford, Kempson's arrival forced a reshuffle in the Rocks' formation. After the game it was revealed that the on-loan Portsmouth youngster had broken a toe.
The second half was not as good as the first, probably the result of both teams' exhaustion from the past weekâ€™s efforts. That said, the half was much more even, mainly because Hendon were less effective, their passing losing in its crispness.
Nonetheless, in the 52nd minute, Smith made another good save to deny Thomas the opening goal. Three minutes later, Thomas had another great opportunity.
The ball into him from Chris Seeby was just a little behind him, so needed a touch to get it where he wanted. This tiny hesitation was all that Kempson needed to pull off a superb tackle to dispossess him; it was a challenge that had to be perfectly-timed and effected, otherwise he would have conceded a penalty and probably faced an early exit from the match.
Bognor's reaction was to give Dodd a little more than half an hour to turn the game in their favour - former Portsmouth forward Dan Thompson making way for him. And the Rocks completed their substitutions less than 20 minutes into the second half, Harvey Whyte adding some width to the cause, at the more central Ben Godfrey's expense.
Both teams probed for openings, without much success. Sloppy passes from both teams gave brief glimmers of hope for a goal, but the defences were able to deal with the danger when it arose, so a stalemate looked increasingly likely - a result that certainly would have been better for the visitors.
Hendon did at least have the option of changing things and Smith, Taggart and Jose Figura - his Greens debut - replaced Murray, Diedhiou and Bryan respectively.
With ten minutes remaining, a wayward pass in midfield saw Bognor given a clear opening, probably only their second of the whole match. The ball found its way to Dodd, the man the Rocks would have wanted in that position, but he could not beat McDonnell who made a brave block.
In the 87th, Figura fired a shot towards goal. It was probably just missing the near post, but it was too close for Grant Smith to leave, so he pushed the ball away for a corner.
Fouled earlier in the half, when a corner was played into the penalty area, the goalkeeper felt he might draw another foul as this ball came into the danger area. He was, however, some distance from the ball and was blocked off by a phalanx of players, from both teams.
It meant that when the ball reached Leon Smith, he could guide it goalwards with his head. The ball looped almost apologetically seven feet into the air and dropped behind the goal line.
There were a few nervy minutes of stoppage time to be endured, but Bognor seemed to lack the energy to get back into the game. They did force one corner, but James Fisher - a tower of strength alongside Casey Maclaren all evening - made a telling clearance.