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Hendon defender: we can hold our heads high after FA Cup exit

PUBLISHED: 12:50 07 November 2012

Elliot Brathwaite

Elliot Brathwaite

Archant

Elliott Brathwaite insists Hendon can take pride from their FA Cup performance at Aldershot – and use it as a launchpad to rocket up the Ryman League table.

Brathwaite and fellow central defender James Fisher turned in towering displays as the Greens gave their League Two hosts a massive scare in Saturday’s first round tie.

Dean Cracknell’s spectacular strike gave Hendon a 28th-minute lead and, although Danny Hylton levelled in the second half, the visitors seemed set for a replay until Hylton’s second goal, five minutes from time, ended their cup run.

And, although the Greens are currently just one place off the foot of the Premier Division table, Brathwaite believes their FA Cup exploits are a better indicator of their true potential.

“We train twice a week, but we’ve come to a pro club who train every day and, no disrespect to them, we made them look pretty average,” Brathwaite told the Times.

“I spoke to the Aldershot groundsman and he told me a couple of visitors who were watching with the directors didn’t realise who was the non-league side and who wasn’t.

“Hearing that from someone outside of Hendon is a massive positive and I think we can all hold our heads high.

“This performance just goes to show what we can do and that we more than deserve to be higher in the table than we are at the moment. I think we will take this into the league and aim for the play-offs, minimum.

“The lads are all quite grounded and have their heads screwed on – no-one’s going to get carried away with the excitement of the day. We will have to adjust and concentrate on ourselves.”

Brathwaite could have imprinted his name in Hendon folklore when he missed a chance to give the visitors a 2-0 lead early in the second half, miscuing his header from a Michael Murray corner.

Hylton’s equaliser arrived just six minutes later and Brathwaite admits there would probably have been no way back for the Shots – who were booed off at half-time – if he had put the header on target.

“I didn’t quite realise how close I was to the ball,” added the 22-year-old. “I reckon if I’d put that in we would definitely, 100 per cent have gone on to win it.

“The crucial point in the game was when they equalised – if we could have held out longer I think it would have been different. It’s a very big disappointment, but someone’s got to go out.”

Despite the Greens’ exit, Cracknell acknowledged that his strike – he chested down a clearance and then rifled a dipping 30-yarder over Shots goalkeeper Glenn Morris – was the best FA Cup moment of his career.

“I played for Brackley in the first round a few years ago, but this was better – the first time I’ve played against league opposition,” said the Hendon midfielder.

“You don’t score goals like that often – except maybe when you’re at school and you’re messing around! But my first touch was good and it was there to be hit.

“Even though Aldershot are three league above us, I’m still gutted we didn’t go through. When we got the ball down and passed it, especially around their final third, we definitely asked questions of them.

“You can’t say they didn’t deserve anything because they had a lot of chances. But maybe fitness told towards the end, clearances and passes got a bit sloppy and we were giving the ball back to them.”

The Greens are back in league action when they face Lowestoft Town at Vale Farm on Saturday (kick-off 3pm) and then travel to Lewes on Tuesday (7.45pm).


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