Hendon extended their London Senior Cup record finals record to 15 as they overcame Wingate & Finchley at Silver Jubilee Park on a miserable, blustery Tuesday night. They will play Brentford Bs in September, at a venue to be confirmed, probably Welling United.
Missing a large number of players, and obviously unable to play triallists, the Greens were limited in their playing options, but still put out a strong side. The Blues meanwhile had three players who been with Hendon, if only on trial, in Goldy Capela, Tommy Tejan-Sie and Bilal Sayoud.
Hendon started the brighter, getting the ball out wide to Cheyce Grant and Shaun Lucien, with Liam Brooks and Dwade James looking for chances to break the deadlock. The first chance fell to Brooks, but he didn’t strike the ball cleanly and his good shooting opportunity rather bobbled in the grateful arms of Fergal Hale-Brown.
When the Greens forced a corner, Lucien’s delivery found Eddie Oshodi, but Hale-Brown was well-positioned to save the defender’s header. In truth, the defender who jumped with Oshodi did a good job to ensure the header wasn’t as clean as he would have liked.
The Blues, however, showed that they were not without threat, but their menace came on the counter-attack. Capela, who spent a month at Silver Jubilee Park on dual registration while a Dagenham & Redbridge player in 2015, made a number of dangerous runs, but Tommy Brewer largely kept him quiet and he made fine block to deflect an effort wide of Jonathan North’s post.
Oshodi was proving a source of danger when he came up for set pieces and he saw another header saved by Hale-Brown. Lucien then carved himself an opening and although he had both James and Brooks screaming for a pass, he took a curling shot which bent just beyond the far post.
Eventually, Wingate & Finchley got their timing right and an astute ball from Kavan Cotter released Capela with a clear run at goal. North came out to narrow the angle, but CAPELA beat him with an assured flick.
North then produced an excellent save as Capela found himself with another clear sight of goal, but the next action was at the other end. Hale-Brown made a fine stop to keep out an effort from Brooks which looked booked for the bottom corner.
The two strikers both went close as chances came and went. First Capela couldn’t beat North for a second time and then Brooks saw his effort fly inches away from the target.
In the second half, the Blues again struggled to deal with Oshodi’s presence in their penalty area, but his header went wide of the target. Another former Hendon man, Bilal Sayoud – who played for Jimmy Gray in 2019 – had a half-chance but his effort flew some way wide of the far post.
Frustration was beginning to show as Solomon Sambou and Ahmet Rifat both picked up yellow cards after a coming together. However, with a little more than 20 minutes of normal time remaining, Hendon got the equaliser they craved.
The source could hardly have been considered a surprise as it was a Lucien corner. And it was more unsurprising when OSHODI got on the end of the cross and directed the ball into the net from an acute angle beyond the far post.
Neither team really wanted extra time and Hendon made their intentions clear by replacing James with Samrai Gabri in the 73rd minute and Grant with Luca Allinson a couple of minutes later. The two substitutes were not like for like and asked different questions of a Blues team that was struggling to deep in the Greens’ half; they responded with the introduction of Billy Healy at the expense of goalscorer Capela.
Before Jayden Clarke replaced him, Lucien went close with another shot and there were more heroics from Hale-Brown as he made a save from Gebrai.
Despite almost seven minutes of stoppage, there were no more goals, so the game went in to the extra 30 minutes. Earlier in the competition – 11 months earlier! – Hendon and Cockfosters played out a penalty shoot-out after 90 minutes of deadlock but, because this was a semi-final, the rules have extra time before the lottery of games decided by “kicks from the penalty mark”.
It took less than five minutes of extra time for Hendon to take the lead. Going back up the hill, the ball was played around just outside the Blues’ penalty area before reaching the feet of BROOKS, who took a touch and smashed a rising 25-yard angled drive just inside the angle of far post and crossbar.
The Greens began to exert control as their superior passing left Wingate & Finchley struggling to stop waves of attacks. Richard Platt came on for Rifat as the Blues tried to add some younger legs – Rifat first played against Hendon in autumn 2004 – but it must be said the change didn’t have the desired effect.
At the start of the final period, Hendon again went close when excellent approach play from Sambou set up Oshodi, whose effort was blocked away for a corner. Wingate & Finchley’s players must have been looking up the hill into the growing gale and thinking the goal at the far end was a very long away.
From Hendon’s next corner, the ball was not properly cleared and Oshodi, going back towards his own penalty, intercepted a pass. He immediately went forward, beat a couple of defenders and fed the ball Brooks.
The striker tried to beat a defender, then played a one-two with Oshodi to create space. This time Brooks’ shot was blocked by Hale-Brown and the rebound fell to GEBRAI, who wasted little time in finding the back of the net.
This was the death knell for Wingate & Finchley’s hopes of another London Senior Cup final. After Tommy Brewer had nearly added a fourth, denied by another Hale-Brown save, the Blues were reduced to 10 men when Platt clashed with Gebrai after the ball had gone and he was dismissed.
It hadn’t been pretty, the conditions pretty much dictated that, but Hendon were more than good value for their victory.