McCann: FA Cup triumph shows Hendon are heading in the right direction
12:00 22 September 2016
Hendon manager Gary McCann says Saturday’s FA Cup victory at Dulwich Hamlet has provided a tantalising glimpse of what his side could produce this season.
Niko Muir and Luke Tingey were on target as the Greens won 2-0 away against Dulwich – who contested the Ryman League Premier Division play-off final last season – in the second qualifying round on Saturday, taking their FA Cup winnings so far this season to £7,500.
Hendon will have the chance to double that prize fund when they host AFC Rushden & Diamonds in the next round on Saturday October 1.
And, after battling relegation for most of the last campaign and then winning just two of their first seven Premier Division games this term, McCann feels things are now coming together.
“It was our most complete performance of the season,” said McCann. “We were defensively solid, combative and played with real energy. We were a threat going forwards and I could not really have asked for more.
“It’s been a tricky start to the season for us. We have had a lot of new players and there was always going to be a bedding-in period.
“We had a positive pre-season but that counts for nothing – the players have to perform under pressure and they did that on Saturday. There is a real togetherness in the squad now. It was a huge win for us and proof we are heading in the right direction.”
AFC Rushden & Diamonds are a supporter-owned club formed in 2011 after the original Rushden & Diamonds – who were in the third tier of the national pyramid in 2004 – were expelled from the Football League for financial reasons in 2011 and liquidated soon afterwards.
The Diamonds, managed by Andy Peaks, are 10th in the Evo-Stik First Division South – the Midlands equivalent of Hendon’s league – and defeated Concord Rangers 3-1 in their second qualifying round tie.
“We played them a couple of years ago in the first qualifying round and won 1-0, and they were a Step Five side at that stage, so we know it won’t be an easy game,” McCann added.
“At this stage you always hope for an easy game but this is the proverbial banana skin for us. They’re a strong side and very well supported. They’re definitely an emerging force in English football.
“I don’t know too many of their players but we will have them watched and leave nothing to chance.”
Hendon drew 2-2 draw with Harlow Town at home in the league on Tuesday. Karl Oliyide and Chris Seeby were on target for the Greens, while Alfie Young was sent off.