Hendonâ€™s cup season came to an end on Tuesday night as their grip on the Middlesex Senior Cup was broken by Hayes and Yeading United. A contest between step 3 and step 4, albeit with the higher team in a slump and the lower one in great form, went the way of impetus with a goal in each half.
Both teams were much changed from the weekend, with Andrew McCorkell, a recent Hendon returnee after a month on loan in late 2016, taking over from Danny Boness in goal. The Greens had practically no attacking options available so Shaquille Hippolyte-Patrick and Shaun Lucien were pressed into service as the most forward players.
In the 15th minute, Hendon should have taken the lead. Matty Harriott timed his run into the penalty area perfectly to control the ball. Jack Smith made a good block of Harriottâ€™s first attempt, but he had a second chance and this time fired a shot against the crossbar â€“ anything on target, with the goalkeeper out of position, would surely have given the Greens a confidence-boosting lead.
Jake Sobalek had twice gone close, McCorkell making one good save and watching the other flash over the crossbar, when, in the 27th minute, he exposed Hendonâ€™s defensive frailties for a third time. This time, his run was halted by the goalkeeper â€“ illegally â€“ and Duncan CULLEY sent McCorkell the wrong way with the spot-kick.
It was nearly 2â€“0 a couple of minutes later as George Spiers advanced from midfield and fired a shot which required a good save from McCorkell.
Hendon then were given the chance to equalise following a foul right on the edge of the penalty area. Lucien took the free-kick and beat Smith all ends up, but the ball went inches over the crossbar.
McCorkell was the busier of the two goalkeepers, but neither could complain they were overworked. In the 35th minute, Brendan Murphy-McVey came close to opening his Hendon account when he found himself with a shooting opportunity.
Michael Oâ€™Neill spotted the danger and threw himself in front of the ball, blocking it away for a corner. In doing so, however, he crashed into the barrier behind the goal and required lengthy treatment before resuming, albeit briefly. Dan Edwards took over from him with eight minutes of the first half remaining.
Before the start of the second half, Hendon made their first change, Tyriq Hunte replacing Romario Jonas to give the Greens a more orthodox attacking option. He was, however, well shadowed by the Hayes and Yeading defence and barely got a look at the target.
Hendon had loud claims for a penalty, for handball, as they chased the game. The Greens close to the incident were convinced it was more than ball to hand, but the referee, who had a good view, was not persuaded.
The Greens made their second change when Gianni Crichlow took over from Murphy-McVey, but the major action was at the other end. In the 68th minute, Adam Pepera mistimed a jump inside the penalty area and flattened the Hayes and Yeading forward.
This time, the referee pointed to the spot and up stepped Culley again. His drive beat McCorkellâ€™s dive, and also the far post, a big escape for Hendon, but they failed to take advantage of it.
Instead, the defence was again opened up. CULLEY strode into the space, steadied himself as he controlled the ball and finished with confidence.
The injury jinx struck Hendon again as Riccardo Alexander-Greenaway picked up a knock and had to go off. Howard Hall came on for him, but, at about the same time, it became clear that Darren Locke was also struggling, so he was moved forward and Luke Tingey dropped back into defence.
McCorkell was then very quickly off his line to clear a short back-pass. He reached the ball just in the nick of time because it was almost taken away from him.
As time ticked down it was clear that the dye was cast and it was disappointing that a number of green-shirted players seemed to accept their fate rather too meekly. Certainly, the greater desire and commitment came from those in powder blue as another sad night came to an end.
The visit of Tiverton Town on Saturday is now the big one, with Hendon desperate to end their nine-game losing streak.