Hendon went out of the AXA-sponsored FA Cup on Tuesday night when Hitchin emulated their feat of scoring a last-minute replay equaliser in the 2nd qualifying round before winning in extra time, by doing exactly the same at Top Field.
Both teams made only one change from those involved on Saturday, Hitchin moving Matt Nolan from the bench into Stuart Beever's starting role and fan-favourite Cliff Akurang taking over on the bench. Hendon brought in Mark Burgess for Ross Pickett on the bench after the striker suffered an injury at work.
The game was effectively decided in the final 5 minutes of normal time. Hendon, defending a 1-0 lead, were not unduly stretched by Hitchin while still looking dangerous on the break. In the 86th minute, Manager Dave Anderson made the orthodox decision to make a substitution. With Byron Bubb the only attacking option on the bench, bringing him on was not the wrong move; but taking off Phil Ruggles turned out to be.
He had been Hendon's most effective striker and his style caused Hitchin far more problems than Eugene Ofori and Dale Binns. It left Hendon with their 3 most attacking players all being similar in style. Even moving Davis Haule forward into an attacking role would probably have been a better option.
As with the game on Saturday, the proceedings started brightly with Hendon having a number of early opportunities. After 2 minutes, Ofori shot just over the bar. Three minutes later a run from Binns set up Haule, who shot over, then Nick Webb made a fine save from Ruggles.
In the 8th minute, Simon Clarke let rip with a 30-yarder that went about a foot over the bar. A minute later, a deflected shot from Nolan was well saved by David Hook. In the 10th minute, Hitchin suffered a blow when experienced right-back Jon Bone limped off to be replaced by Darren Sarll.
In the 28th minute, a magnificent Hendon move should have led to the opening goal. Binns made an excellent run down the right flank. With few options open, he passed back to Haule, who sent the ball on to Jon-Barrie Bates. He passed to Paul Yates, who knocked the ball back into the penalty area. Haule controlled the diagonal pass and lifted it on to Ruggles, who had lost his marker.
Ruggles controlled the ball well and was had clear run towards goal. Webb came racing out of his goal to narrow the angle, so Ruggles laid the ball square right into the path of Haule, who had followed up his pass. It only needed a tap-in, but Haule did not look around. If he had, he would have seen Tim Allpress sprinting back. The defender reached the ball before Haule and cleared the danger. From the corner, Ruggles shot wide from a good position.
Ofori showed some excellent skill in the 32nd minute, dragging the ball back as 2 defenders tried to force him wide. His curling snap-shot from 18 yards beat Webb but also went over the bar.
Hendon made a slow start to the second half, but Hitchin did not create a great deal either, and the Greens soon regained the initiative. In the 62nd minute, a fine run by Ruggles was followed by a better shot. Webb was nowhere near it with his dive, but the ball cannoned off the foot of the post and bounced away to safety.
Six minutes later, Ruggles' perseverance brought him deserved reward. He chased a backpass to Webb, who looked for an outlet where Bone would normally have been. In the absence of a natural right-back, nobody gave Webb the easy option, so the keeper tried to knock the ball downfield. RUGGLES timed his jump perfectly and blocked the ball. It bounced past Webb and went into the net. The last time Hendon had managed a goal like this was also in the FA Cup and it also came from an on-loan striker - Colin Simpson - in the 1st round proper against Leyton Orient.
Hitchin tried to get back into the game, but Micky Woolner, Simon Clarke, Paul Towler and RenÃƒÂ© Street were more than comfortable in repelling the raids that came. The arrival of Akurang had not changed the game, and Jon Barnett's appearance did not make a difference.
With 90 seconds to go, Hendon needlessly conceded a corner and paid for it. The ball was not cleared, knocked back in, bounced around and was finally rammed into the net by Ian SCOTT. There were 70 seconds left in normal time.
Extra-time was almost one-way traffic. Street was replaced by Chris Sparks in the 2nd minute of the opening period and he was quickly in the thick of the action. Buoyed by the goal and with Hendon desperately unbalanced, Hitchin totally dominated. Hook produced a number of fine saves, none better than the one in the 94th minutes when it seemed certain Shaun Marshall would score.
The inevitable goal arrived in the final few seconds of the first period. Hendon failed to deal with a long throw-in and the ball fell to NOLAN, who smacked the ball into the net from close range.
Hitchin doubled the lead in the 110th minute as MARSHALL atoned for his first-period miss by scoring Hitchin's 3rd goal. They could have had a few more too, but for good saves from Hook. Hendon tried to build patiently from the back, but with less than 10 minutes to go, time was the one commodity the Greens didn't have. Hitchin were happy to let Hendon make pretty patterns 60 yards from their goal; they had nothing left to prove.
"I am sick, absolutely sick," said Mr Anderson after the game. "We had so many chances to win the game but spurned them." On Ruggles' substitution, he said, "I could have taken off either Ofori or Ruggles and I chose Phil. He was not injured, but he was very tired."