Hendon moved into the next round of the London Senior Cup after beating Essex Senior League Barking 3-1 at Earlsmead on Monday night. It was a comfortable victory, but made closer by a spirited performance from a club two divisions below the Greens, but on the back of a long unbeaten run.
It should be said that Hendon did rest a number of players and, of the first-choice 11, it could be that as few as three, or as many as six were in the starting line-up. Brandon Hazlett was given his debut and there were first starts of the season for Peter Dean, Max McCann and Belal Aite-Ouakrim.
So much has changed since the first meeting between the clubs at Earlsmead, but the previous time had a lot more riding on it than an early round of the London Senior Cup: it was the May 1977 Isthmian League Cup final, a match won 1-0 by Hendon thanks to an early goal from Rod Haider and a second-half penalty save by Malcolm Dalrymple.
Short of a penalty shoot-out, something had to give in the match as Barking came in on the back of an eight-game unbeaten run - seven wins and a draw - whereas Hendon had three draws to go with seven victories in a 10-match undefeated streak.
The story of the game, however, came in the 79th minute, when Leon Smith took a short pass, turned past Glen Golby and fired low past Jason Willis into the bottom left corner. It made the score 3-1, but his goal was in his eighth consecutive appearance - equalling the club record set by Oscar Reinke between 5 September and 24 October 1925 (Reinke's eight-match run did bring him 18 goals, compared to Smith's nine).
By this stage, Hendon should have been out of sight and would have been but for heroics from Jason Willis, who made three or four top-notch saves. The Greens were also guilty of over-elaboration on a few occasions.
The opening goal arrived in the 38th minute when Chris Seeby and Peter Dean combined well to set up Aite-Ouakrim, whose shot was goalbound before deflecting off a Barking defender. Jason Willis was already struggling to reach the shot before it was taken even further away from him.
Three minutes later, the lead was almost doubled when Ibe lost his marker at the far post following an Ollie Sprague cross. He caressed the ball over the goalkeeper, but it struck the inside of his far post and spun back into the field of play, from where Steve Willis cleared.
Three minutes into the second half, Hendon did get a second goal when Aite-Ouakrim did what he does best: running hard at defenders and using his sublime control and balance to get past them. Having got into a shooting position, he gave Jason Willis no chance.
With nothing to lose, Barking upped their tempo and Hazlett was forced to make two excellent saves to keep the score at 2-0. Strangely, both teams were most dangerous when they were on the counter-attack and, instead of making it a conservative contest, trying to protect their weaknesses, the teams continued to attack and hope the counter-thrusts were unsuccessful.
It didn't work at either end. in the 71st minute, Hendon were caught with two many men in attacking positions when possession was lost. Barking moved the ball forward with purpose and, this time, when Ryan Creed was presented with the shooting opportunity, he made no mistake with a clinical finish.
Smith's goal, eight minutes later, should have put the game beyond Barking's reach, but five minutes from the end of normal time, they struck the inside of the same post Ibe had hit before the interval - with the same unfortunate result.
Ryan Palmer came close to opening his Hendon account and Sam Flegg also had an opportunity in the latter stages of this thoroughly entertaining and open encounter, while Ibe should have had a penalty in the 87th minute when he was pulled down in the penalty area. The referee, however, ruled on the side of the defender.
At the other end, driven forward by the excellent and unflappable Joe Staunton, Creed, Lindispho, Mtyanda, Tom Jeffes and Ben Oâ€™Brien caused Hendon frequent problems, but the Greens' rearguard did just enough.
Hendon's reward for this victory is a second round tie at the winners of the London Bari v Redbridge match due to be played on 28 October.