FA Trophy: Hendon 2 Bath City 1
PUBLISHED: 07:54 18 December 2017 | UPDATED: 07:54 18 December 2017
Hendon set a new club record as they produced an upset to defeat Vanarama National League South Bath City and reach the second round proper of the Buildbase FA Trophy.
Never before had the Greens won four ties in one FA Trophy season since they first entered the competition in 1974–75.
But they reverted pretty much to the team which had overcome Thurrock in the Bostik League seven days earlier, as Bath contained one former Hendon player, Kevin Amankwaah, who had played for the club as an Under-18s player in 1998–99.
Put another way, he signed for Bristol City from Hendon before Keagan Cole was born.
The Romans were determined to put Hendon under pressure early in the game, something they achieved, but failed to profit from.
After a dozen minutes, Opi Edwards dispossessed Sam Murphy and then tried a shot from an acute angle which flashed not far from the far post but still went out for a throw-in to the Greens.
Bath’s best first-half chance fell to Rhys Kavanagh, who lost his marker at a free-kick but directed his header directly at Tom Lovelock.
In the main, however, the Greens’ rearguard of Jake Eggleton, Murphy, Rian Bray and Arthur Lee, assisted by Casey Maclaren and Michael Corcoran in front of them, did a great job of protecting Lovelock from the advancing Romans legions.
Chances were few and far between at both ends, though a Maclaren header from a corner narrowly missed the far post.
The ease with which he reached the ball suggested that Hendon’s best opportunities might come from set pieces, but there were a couple of shooting opportunities too.
Zak Joseph mishit an attempted curler which missed the target by a considerable margin.
And there was also a strike from Josh Walker which deflected off a team-mate and a stretching Niko Muir just failed to reach the looping ball as it dropped wide of the far post.
In the 39th minute, Hendon won a corner out on the right and Murphy delivered the ball deep into the Bath penalty area. Corcoran sent a dominating header back into the middle of the box, where the unmarked Lee got in front of fellow defender Bray and rolled the ball into the net from close range.
To call the goal against the run of play would be an exaggeration, but Bath had certainly enjoyed better possession and territorial advantage.
However, the Romans were back in the game less than a minute into the second half as Edwards got around the back of the Hendon defence and his low cross found Tom Smith, who made no mistake in beating Lovelock.
For the next 10 minutes the Romans were in the ascendancy but creating good chances remained an issue. Frankie Artus won a header from a corner, but it was too high and there were a couple of other speculative long-range efforts directed straight at Lovelock.
Hendon gradually got back into the game with Walker and Murphy working well down the left wing, and Dan Uchechi, a constant thorn in the Bath side, combining with Eggleton on the opposite flank.
With 18 minutes to go, the Greens made their first change, sending on Cole in place of Walker. It took less than a minute for the move to be proved a masterstroke.
A long throw from near the right corner flag was well controlled by Muir and he set up Cole, who rolled the ball past a static Luke Southwood – an unused substitute for England when they won Under-20 World Cup earlier this year.
Bath’s reaction to going behind again was strangely muted and it would be around 10 minutes before they made their first – and what proved to be only – change, sending on Nick McCootie for Matt Richards.
At the same time, Dave Diedhiou came on for Joseph and things very nearly got worse for the Romans in the last couple of minutes, as it took a brilliant challenge from Amankwaah, who had just received treatment, to deny Muir a third Hendon goal and the ball looped into the arms of Southwood.
The draw for the second round takes place on Monday and if Hendon can win their next tie – due to be played on January 13 – they will match their best ever performance of reaching the last 16 of the competition.
The Greens have done it three times, but not since the 1998–99 season – when manager Gary McCann and his assistant Freddie Hyatt played in the 3–0 win away to Conference champions-elect Cheltenham Town.
Hendon: Lovelock, Eggleton, Murphy, Corcoran, Bray, Lee, Uchechi (Nathaniel-George 90), Maclaren, Joseph (Diedhiou 83), Muir, Walker (Cole 72). Unused subs: Ball, Ibe.