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Nervous Hendon nick it

PUBLISHED: 15:56 02 October 2008 | UPDATED: 13:22 24 August 2010

by David Ballheimer

Hendon (2) 2, Dulwich Hamlet (0) 1

Hendon made it into the third qualifying round of the FA Cup, sponsored by e.on, for the first time in five seasons and avoided the misery of a second qualifying round replay defeat

by David Ballheimer

Hendon (2) 2, Dulwich Hamlet (0) 1

Hendon made it into the third qualifying round of the FA Cup, sponsored by e.on, for the first time in five seasons and avoided the misery of a second qualifying round replay defeat for the third time in four years, with a heart-stopping 2-1 defeat of Dulwich Hamlet. On Saturday week, 11 October, the Greens will play AFC Telford United from the Blue Square North Division at Wembley FC, kick-off 3.00 pm.

There were two changes to both teams line-ups from Saturday, Hamlet losing Benson Paka to work commitments and Steve May to travel trouble while Hendon brought in Marc Leach and Lubomir Guentchev for Charlie Mapes and Danny Dyer, both of whom were on the bench.

As with the first game, it was Dulwich who started the brighter, but their inability to convert chances proved very expensive. This time, however, the first Hendon strike brought reward.

Glen Garner and Harry Hunt combined and the latter did well to get around Billy Chattaway and his teasing low cross was too far out for Jamie Lunan to reach and just behind the lunging Marc Cumberbatch. Running onto the loose ball was Dave Diedhiou and he drilled the ball into the net from eight yards.

Dulwich were clearly deflated and it took them five minutes to put together a passing move of any significance. Hendon's passing, for once, wasn't particularly crisp, but they were, at least, comfortable with their advantage without threatening to extend it.

That was until the 22nd minute, when a beautiful turn by Guentchev took him around Fasineh Korama and offered freedom to run towards goal down the inside left channel. Guentchev looked up, spotted Hunt in a few yards of space and rolled the ball towards him. Hunt trusted his first touch and sent the ball high into the roof of the net from 12 yards.

The Greens should have gone on from here and put the game to bed, but to Dulwich's credit, they closed Hendon down and didn't them much in the way of space anywhere near the goal. Defensively, Hendon certainly didn't look particularly secure, but as long as Hamlet continued to fire off target there was little to concern them.

Before the start of the second half, Hendon brought on James Burgess for Rakatahr Hudson, who had picked up a first-half knock. His second half absence would prove damaging. But as the substitution was being made, the Dulwich players went into a huddle and came out fired up.

The men in pink completely dominated the second half, forcing Hendon further and further back. Garner and Hunt became increasingly isolated as Diedhiou, James Bent and Guentchev were forced to play more defensively than any of them preferred.

On the one occasion Hendon did launch an attack, a sublime flick by Guentchev gave him a clear run at goal, albeit at an acute angle. Hunt and Garner were both well placed but the young Bulgarian, buoyed by his good touch, went for glory and sliced the ball into the side-netting.

On the hour mark, the worst nightmare for Hendon fans came true. Three players might have cleared the danger, but failed to make good contact with the ball. It fell to the feet of Gary Noel, who struck a superb, rising, first-time shot inside Berkley Lawrencin's near post.

The last half hour crawled by for Hendon, their bench and the fans. Dulwich had about 85 per cent of the possession, but Mark Kirby marshalled the defence well and direct shots at goal were both few and far between and invariably inaccurate. In the 15 minutes after Dulwich scored, Hendon had precisely one attack and it led a free-kick which was unaccountably knocked to the side and Mapes - who had replaced the tiring Garner (and had scored from a not dissimilar position at Royston) - had the effort blocked.

Dulwich sent on Tom Bolarinwa for Laurent Hamici, to increase the physical presence, and also sent Junior Kaffo into an advanced position as they tried to snatch a second goal to force extra time.

And, with barely a minute of normal time remaining, they should have achieved their ambition. Kevin Maclaren and Kirby for once failed to stop an attack down the left flank. The ball was crossed into the penalty area, where an unmarked Kaffo was waiting for his moment of glory.

He fluffed his lines horribly, however, and sent his free header from five yards over the crossbar. Across the pitch, three Dulwich sank to the ground as if shot by a sniper as the enormity of Kaffo's miss sank in. As hammer blows go, a third Hendon goal would hardly have deflated Dulwich more.

On the back of this escape, Hendon played out the five minutes of stoppage time, winning a couple of corners and frustrating Dulwich into submission. Having seen off opposition from levels six and four of non-league football, the next challenge, against level two opponents, is going to be very tough indeed.

"Just as on Saturday, I was comfortable until they scored," said manager Gary McCann. "Again our confidence dropped when we conceded, but maybe because we held on to win, this might just take us over the hump with our self-belief."

Team: Lawrencin, K. Maclaren, Vargas, Leach, Kirby, Bent, Guentchev, Diedhiou (Wilson, 90), Hunt, Hudson (Burgess, HT), Garner (Mapes, 72). Unused subs: Mansaray, Dyer, Kalipha, Wilmot (gk).

times.series@archant.co.uk


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