Our run in the Isuzu FA Trophy has come to an end after we were handed a 2-0 loss by seventh-tier Hendon last Saturday at Silver Jubilee Park.
This loss now ensures we are out of the tournament, alongside the Emirates FA Cup, meaning our focus for the rest of the season will be aimed purely towards climbing up the National League South table.
Few could have argued that the hosts didn’t deserve the victory, which was obtained by a Finlay MacNab opener inside 27 minutes, followed by a Billy Leonard tap-in right as the game reached its close.
Despite being a tier below us in the football pyramid, Hendon appeared stronger throughout, being more clinical than us with their opportunities in front of goal.
In contrast, we struggled to cause problems in the final third, ultimately costing us the game.
Making his debut on Saturday was new signing Joe Cook, a recent loan acquisition from Dorking Wanderers.
Joining him in the line-up was Teddy Howe, returning from suspension and cup-specialist Ezio Touray, who had already netted four times outside the league this season going into the game.
The first chance went to the hosts after just two minutes, Gerard Benfield forced to make a save at the near post after Niko Muir attempted an audacious back-heel effort.
In truth the Hendon forward would have had to have done a lot more to see that brave attempt go in, as the power behind the shot was thwarted by heavy wind.
Though it would be our players mainly affected by the breeze, as shown with our struggle to find players with many of our crosses, corner kicks or through-balls.
Our first real chance came after 14 minutes when Dan Roberts chested the ball down, ready to fire towards goal from close-range.
However, the forward was unable to connect with the ball, perhaps reflective of our attacking threat that afternoon.
Three minutes later, Touray would attempt a low-driven shot from approx. 30 yards out, albeit tamely into the hands of Bradley House.
It wouldn’t be too long before we would come to rue our missed opportunities.
Joe White ended up coming close for the hosts after 25 minutes, after Benfield was forced to parry away the Hendon skipper’s venomous shot from inside the box.
This looked to be the best chance of the game so far, for about two minutes.
White would again force Benfield to push away a shot, although our man between the sticks would have less luck this time round.
His save landed straight at the feet of MacNab, who only had to poke home on the rebound to give his side a deserved 1-0 lead.
We did have the chance to bring ourselves level three minutes into stoppage time, although newcomer Cook’s header bounced well wide, capping off a frustrating first half for our players.
The second half began with a piece of good defending from Calvin Brooks, who smartly blocked White’s accurately-hit low shot.
Hendon would then come close again five minutes before the hour mark after Muir was able to burst past Leo Hamblin, before firing wide.
We would, though, find ourselves with a chance four minutes later when Roberts, following an accidental one-two with the Hendon defence, ran through on goal.
However, the forward was unable to hit the target, blasting over the bar.
Our next notable opportunity came after 72 minutes, when Hamblin was about to shoot following a Brandon Goodship corner.
This would come to nothing, though, as the defender’s deflected strike was fisted away by House.
Hamblin’s attempt would ultimately be our last big chance of the game as the match started to come to an end.
White would again fail to get on the scoresheet when, after 83 minutes, he fired over the bar following a cheeky back-heeled pass from Hamza Semakula.
Nonetheless, the hosts once more had the opportunity to put the game to bed three minutes into stoppage time.
Winger Kai Brosnan used his pace to surge past Olu Durojaiye and square to Leonard, who stood before an open goal.
All Leonard had to do was gently tap home, giving his side a 2-0 lead and capping off a miserable Saturday afternoon for The Terras.
by Jack Webb