AFC Rushden couldn’t quite get the result their effort deserved as Leon Smith’s fine solo goal saw Hendon advance to the second qualifying round of the FA Cup.
The visitors matched their Step 3 opponents for large periods of the game and only a couple of fine saves by Hendon ‘keeper Ben McNamara prevented the upset.
Manager Andy Peaks made two changes to the side that came from behind to defeat Harrowby, Tom Lorraine and Greg Ling making way for Fazel Koriya and Richard Bunting in a more conservative formation with Jason Turner playing the role of the lone striker.
The Greens started the brighter with marksman Kezie Ibe making some dangerous runs behind the Diamonds defensive line, although he was forced off with an injury just ten minutes in.
Sam Murphy saw his long range shot flash inches wide, before Ibe’s replacement Aaron Morgan tamely struck into the hands of Matt Finlay.
As the game reached the twenty minute mark Rushden grew in confidence – and they came so close to taking the lead.
Adam Confue harassed the home defence into conceding a corner and Matt Gearing’s floated delivery was met with full force by Joe Henderson, but McNamara flung himself to the right to tip the header just around the post.
Confue was causing all sorts of problems with his persistence and nearly broke through minutes later, but he was prevented by a fine last-ditch tackle.
Hendon had the ball in the back of the net on the half hour mark after a neatly-worked corner routine, but fortunately for Rushden the linesman had his flag up for offside.
Richard Bunting nearly caught McNamara out with a quick free kick from long range soon after, but his effort flew over the bar with the ‘keeper stranded.
With Rushden on top, the hosts threatened to turn the screw and nearly took the lead through Morgan, but his drive flew narrowly wide.
Liam Dolman then picked up a deserved yellow for a cynical foul on Leon Smith after he had been rounded, before the referee brought a halt to a largely uneventful first half.
Half time: Hendon 0-0 AFC Rushden & Diamonds
The visitors came steaming out of the blocks early in the second half and should have taken the lead just three minutes in.
Sam Brown’s cross dropped at the feet of Jason Turner just six yards out, but McNamara was quick off his line and smothered the striker’s attempt.
Brown was then involved at the other end, on hand to make a vital block from Smith’s driven cross after he had rounded Dolman.
Turner almost found a way to get on the end of Gearing’s teasing cross, but it was the hosts who took the lead in the 66th minute.
A high, bouncing ball caused confusion amongst the Rushden defence and Leon Smith broke free before rounding Finlay and calmly smashing the ball past a helpless Joe Merrill on the line.
Smith almost doubled his tally minutes later, thundering his effort against the crossbar from 25 yards.
Try as they might the ball just wasn’t dropping for Rushden, Gearing’s cross narrowly missing Turner once again before Morgan almost sealed the game at the other end, his shot flying over.
Dolman had one last chance to rescue the replay but his overhead kick went well wide, and the hosts held on to seal their place in Monday’s draw.
Full time: Hendon 1-0 AFC Rushden & Diamonds
Diamonds Man of the Match: Joe Henderson
The Diamonds return to UCL action next Saturday when they travel to face Yaxley FC.
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
1. Ben McNamara
2. Chris Seeby
3. Oliver Sprague
4. James Fisher
5. Elliott Braithwaite
6. Dave Diedhiou
7. Sam Murphy
8. Lee O’Leary
9. Leon Smith
10. Kezie Ibe
11. Andre Da Costa
12. Richard Worrell (for Smith, 85)
14. Max McCann
15. Tony Taggart (for Da Costa, 67)
17. Aaron Morgan (for Ibe, 9)
18. Peter Dean
17. Matt Finlay
2. Joe Merrill
3. Sam Brown
4. Brad Harris
5. Liam Dolman
6. Joe Henderson
7. Matt Gearing
8. Richard Bunting
9. Jason Turner
10. Fazel Koriya
11. Adam Confue
12. Greg Ling
13. Quincy Shorunmu
14. Tom Lorraine (for Bunting, 82)
15. Arron Parkinson
16. Elliott Lamb-Johnson (for Koriya, 72)
Goals: Smith (66)
Yellow Cards: Taggart (72)
Yellow Cards: Dolman (39)
Referee: Rick Bloy