Hendon did more than enough to defeat Staines Town in the Buildbase FA Trophy first round qualifying at Silver Jubilee Park. The final score doesn't really do justice to the Greens, who dominated for most of the 90 minutes.
The club's new signings, defender Adam Pepara - from Farnborough - and Bayley Brown â€“ a midfielder formerly with Staines and, more recently, Harrow Borough, were on the bench, and the only change to the starting line-up was Cole Brown coming in for Prince Mbengui, who was a third substitute. Pepara and Matty Newman were the two replacements not to be used.
Hendon had an early scare when a dangerous-looking Staines attack came to nought, with Thomas Gogo wriggling past Howard Hall before crossing into the danger zone. The Greens then created a half-chance for Connor Calcutt, but he could not get off a shot.
In the ninth minute, the Hendon defence went to sleep and was made to pay. An attack down the right flank was half dealt with, but the ball ended up with Gogo on the opposite wing. His cross bounced around before Andy Ali knocked it into the net.
The response came from a Greens free-kick, 27 yards out. Lee Chappell bent the ball over and around the wall, but it struck the underside of the crossbar with Max Harris beaten all ends up. The rebound was headed goalwards by Romario Jonas, where Harris recovered and made an excellent save.
Hendon were repelled on three occasions in quick succession, twice by saves from Harris - from Brown and Calcutt. The third was one of the few errors from Harris, who came flying off his line to deal with a downfield ball, but was beaten to it by Calcutt, a yard inside the penalty area.
The flick-on by Calcutt was then directed towards the almost empty net by the head of German, but former Hendon player Gradi Milenge got back and he headed the ball to safety from off the goalline. Brown then screwed a left-foot shot wide of the target from a good position.
A goal seemed certain to come for Hendon, but they had a huge escape when Gogo fired wide with only Danny Boness to beat. Had he scored, it may well have been a different game.
A couple of minutes later, from another set-piece, Luke Tingey hit a post as Staines continued to ride their luck. Harris made two more good saves, from German and Brown, who also fired into the side-netting from an acute angle.
The breakthrough had to come, but Hendon had to wait until eight minutes into the second half to draw level. It was a bit of a scramble as a couple of attempts were blocked, but when the ball fell to Calcutt for the second time, he scored his first Hendon goal.
In the 61st minute, Bayley Brown came on for his debut at the expense of Sean Bonnett-Johnson, who has certainly added to the Hendon midfield with his calm uncluttered style.
Brown, at 6ft 5ins tall, has a good couple of inches on Stephane Ngamvoulou, brings a different physical presence, but he is also a good tackler and passer. He showed that within 90 seconds of coming on.
Bayley broke up play in midfield and played a superb pass to Cole. The two Browns, having combined well, celebrated together when Cole smashed a curling 25-yarder right into the top corner.
Staines were in danger of being overrun. In the whole of the second half, they had a free-kick which was directed straight at Boness and a shot from Ali into the side-netting.
Despite their complete control, Hendon really needed a third goal to calm their nerves and make the last few minutes comfortable. In fact, if the Greens had scored a third soon after the second, the feeling was that numbers four and five would follow soon after.
That Hendon didn't add to their total was pretty much down the excellence of Harris. He made a brilliant save to deny German after Calcutt had disrupted the Massiveâ€™s attempt to play the ball out of defence. The rebound fell to Calcutt, and his effort crashed off the underside of the crossbar.
When Hendon won at Lancing in the FA Cup earlier in the month, Cole Brown was the victim of outstanding goalkeeping to deny him a four-timer. It was the same again in the Trophy as Harris made saves with his hands, feet and legs.
The fourth member of the attacking quartet, Shaquille Hippolyte-Patrick, also had an afternoon of some personal frustration. As well as shooting wide a couple of times, he also found Harris an almost unpassable rival.
With Staines contributing so little as an attacking force, it seemed strange that Hendon would be nervous, but only one error may have let the Swans in for what could have been a midweek replay.
Gianni Crichlow - for Hippolyte-Patrick and Mbengui - for German - were sent on for the final 10 or so minutes, the latter most definitely to add a bit more defensive steel. The chances continued to come for Hendon, but Harris had staked figurative "thou shalt not pass" signs all around.
Manager James Gray said, "I was very pleased with the second half performance. In a cup-tie getting through is all what really matters."