A Brendan Kiernan header came too late to save Wimbledon tonight as they were knocked out of the London Senior Cup by Ryman Premier Hendon.
Attacking midfielder Kiernan was perhaps Wimbledonís best performer on the night in a match that also saw Jason Prior play 62 minutes on his return to action. However, goals from Jerome Federico and Jack Mazzone condemned the Dons to defeat at the semi-final stage of the competition.
Wimbledon made a promising start that suggested they could run away with it early on. They came so close to opening the scoring in just the third minute when Kiernanís superb 25-yard curler beat Hendon goalkeeper Berkley Laurencin, but struck the upright. With Kieran Djilali also making a good start on the other wing, the Dons looked ready to run riot against their Ryman Premier opponents. But the visitors were in no mood to roll over and they grabbed a surprise lead in the eighth minute. It all started when Brett Johnson brought down Isaiah Rankin on the edge of the area and ex-Wimbledon man Elliott Godfrey curled in a free-kick that was eventually steered home by Federico.
That produced a stirring response from Wimbledon and they created three great chances to equalise before the 20 minute mark. Two of them fell for Jason Prior and he came so close to marking his comeback with a goal. Firstly, Priorís close range effort was deflected wide after great work by Louie Theophanous and the ex-Bognor striker headed just wide after a superb cross from the right by Jim Fenlon. Theophanous then showed great skill to burst through on his own and his eventual shot was only just wide in the end. Kiernan continued to be Wimbledonís biggest threat and he tested Laurencin in the 34th minute when the Hendon goalkeeper had to get down low to save at his near post. Dons goalkeeper Jack Turner was almost able to claim an unlikely assist when his long clearance fell kindly for Theophanous and he was denied from an acute angle by Laurencin.
The Dons were given a mountain to climb in the 49th minute when Mazzone latched onto a through ball and produced a clinical finish across Turner that bounced in off the far post. The hosts were fortunate not to be three down in the 62nd minute when Hendon substitute Carl McCluskey missed an absolute sitter from just a few yards out and Dwayne Campbell scrambled the ball clear. First-teamers Jason Prior and Kieran Djilali were withdrawn midway through the second-half with Jake Rose and Cherno Mendy on as substitutes. Mendy came so close to making an instant impression when he struck a fierce shot from close range that was well saved by Laurencin.
Wimbledon struggled to gather momentum as an attacking force, but Huw Johnson did test Laurencin from 25 yards and Theophanous had a goal-bound shot blocked. That was the signal for a belated spell of home pressure and Kiernan came close with an audacious effort that was just over the crossbar. Kiernan headed home superbly in the 90th minute from a Theophanous corner, but that came too late for the Dons to force extra-time.