Supersub Last completes dramatic comeback
JC MSFL Premier Division: Bafana Bafana 1 Hendon United A 2
Last year's runners-up, Hendon, produced one of the comebacks of the season against a strong Bafana side to put themselves back on the heels of the league leaders Neasden.
With nine minutes to go, Bafana looked to be holding on to their slender lead but Hollywood itself couldn't have scripted the fairytale ending.
There was little sign of the ultimate drama during the opening exchanges at a sodden South Oxhey. Although it did seem that Hendon had a spring in their step and looked especially dangerous on the flanks. It was only last gasp defending from the exceptional Anthony Jaff which kept out first the dangerous Mike Pearson and then Ari Last just failed to get his foot to the ball following excellent work from Josh Lipman.
Slowly Bafana began to get a toehold into the game and driven on by the relentless Adam Lawrence, the pendulum began to shift. As so often in the past few seasons it was Assi Avital at the heart of things. First a header into the grateful arms of Hendon keeper Danny Berliner, and then a shot which bounced off the woodwork and just wide.
By now it was end to end and Hendon looking particularly dangerous at corners where Paul Bentley was peerless.
No score at half time and it was anyones game. But 90 seconds into the second half changed that. Another marauding raid by Bafana down their right and with the Hendon defence unable to clear, Jonny Kaye pounced on to the loose ball to gratefully slot home. 1-0 to the hosts.
This was the signal for 30 minutes of cat and mouse. Hendon moving the ball well, driven by the inspirational captaincy of Josh Bentley. Bafana defending resolutley and giving not an inch.
Just as it looked as a famous victory was on the cards, Jaff committed a reckless challenge on the edge of the box. Up stepped Paul Bentley in the 81st minute and delivered a delicious curling free kick into the bottom corner. The goal saw the immediate inclusion of substitute Avidan Last returning after a five week absence though injury. And that was the script he needed. With almost the last kick of the game, Josh Lipman's snapshot hit the bar and Last was first to the loose ball to nod it home and seal the points. There was scarcely concealed delight in an extraordinary fightback.
Hendon manager Jonathan Kestenbaum said: "In its own way, this was one of the most stirring performances since this group of players came together three years ago. Other sides would have folded being behind with just a few minutes to play.
"But late wins are hallmarks of sides with belief, determination and spirit. The boys have worked so hard at training this week and are poised now to have a real impact on the league and cup."