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Ryman League play-offs descend into farce as Hendon’s semi-final is postponed

PUBLISHED: 12:58 28 April 2015 | UPDATED: 15:15 29 April 2015

Hendon boss Gary McCann (right) and first team coach Scott Cousins (left)

Hendon boss Gary McCann (right) and first team coach Scott Cousins (left)

Archant

Hendon’s march into the play-offs has descended into farce after their semi-final tie was postponed due to an unresolved disciplinary issue involving Enfield Town.

Gary McCann’s Dons finished second in the Ryman League Premier Division to supposedly set up a home tie against Enfield, who secured fifth place on Saturday.

That match was originally due to be played tonight (Thursday). However, the Ryman League then told the Dons that their vital match would be postponed until a matter involving Enfield’s Aryan Tajbakhsh had been resolved.

The midfielder was booked 10 times while playing for Cheshunt and VCD Athletic and then joined Enfield, going on to play for them earlier in the season when he seemingly should have been suspended.

A hearing will take place today to decide what action will be taken, if any, against Enfield – but they could be deducted three points, in which case Hendon would face Metropolitan Police in the play-off semi-final instead.

For a while, the Ryman League were intending to allow the other semi-final – between Dulwich Hamlet and Margate – to go ahead tonight as planned, potentially giving the victors additional time to rest before the final.

That only exacerbated Hendon’s frustrations, with McCann calling the situation “farcical” and “an absolute disgrace”.

That injustice was avoided on Monday when the Football Association issued a directive instructing that the second semi-final would also be postponed, and that both matches would happen on the same day.

However, the situation remains chaotic – Hendon do not know who they will be facing or when the match will be. The final was originally due to take place on Bank Holiday Monday but that could also be rescheduled.

The Greens beat Leiston 2-1 at Earlsmead in their final game of the regular season on Saturday.

Tom Winter put the visitors ahead after 90 seconds, but Hendon levelled when Leon Smith set up Kezie Ibe on 57 minutes – and Ibe returned the favour for the winner with 15 minutes remaining.

The victory stretched Hendon’s unbeaten run to 23 games and McCann hopes their form will carry through to the play-offs.

He said: “I think the unbeaten run was important and that was something we said at half-time.

“I don’t think we played very well – but it was four games in eight days for some of those boys, on the back of a really tough schedule over the last four to six weeks.

“To be able to recover the game and have the mentality to recover the game shows where we’re at. We’ve got a desire and a winning mentality in the group and it’s a belief that we can recover the game at any time. It was again shown to get us over the line – we’ve done it on a few occasions.”

McCann singled out the deadly strike duo of Ibe and Smith, who both hit the target.

“I’m really pleased with the two goals,” he said. “I thought the two goals were excellent and showed the force we’ve got in the final third.

“What I said to them at half-time was that there weren’t enough attempts to link with each other, they weren’t close enough to link at times. For them to then set each other up was very much taking on board what we shared at half-time.

“It gives the team confidence and I think the pair of them have been in a really good place over the course of the whole season.

“Between them I think they’ve got over 50 goals and that’s given the team a platform in the final third, but there’s been some good performances deeper that have got them on the way to their goals – you look at Andre DaCosta, Aaron Morgan and the other players that play off them.

He added: “You’re pleased, but your job’s not done. We’ll recollect and reminisce at the end of the season and we want to do that on the back of a promotion and two cup wins. The team are very much geared towards that, finishing the job they’ve started.

“We’re proud of what’s been achieved already but we want a bit more. That’s very much where we’re at mentally – this is a cup final scenario. It’s important that we rest up and recharge the batteries for our final push.”

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