By James Reid

Days do not come much bigger than a trip to Oldham Athletic for Hendon but an FA Trophy tie against neighbours Wealdstone might just pip it.

The Greens lived the stuff of dreams as they earned a stunning 2-1 victory away at the former Premier League side last month, as Niko Muir netted a 96th-minute winner after the Latics equalised just minutes before.

The now famous win at Boundary Park set up a mouth-watering last 16 tie against Wealdstone, and Hendon board member Jatin Guntupalli, 24, believes the local derby could be even bigger than last month’s cup heroics.

‘It still feels like a dream,” said Guntupalli. “It’s not every time you come across an ex-Premier League side that far down.

“It was a surreal feeling to go to a National League stadium that could still pass in the Championship.

“It doesn’t get better than that. Niko deserved that goal, it was an absolute 10/10 performance.

“He just symbolises everything about the football club. It had to be him, last minute, you can’t beat it.

 “These kinds of moments you really cherish because you don’t get them as often, especially for a club at our level.

“Our fans are really looking forward to the Wealdstone match, some more than the Oldham match.

“We’ll go into the game knowing that on our day we can pull out a win, we can go there and get a result.”

Just nine miles separate the clubs in their current homes, with the pair more than well acquainted on the pitch over the years.

The Stones, in the National League, currently sit two divisions above Hendon but Lee Allinson’s side will back themselves to upset the odds again after already knocking out higher-tier opposition in Oldham, Eastbourne Borough, and Weymouth on their way to the last 16.

Victory would also secure not only local bragging rights and a place in the annals of history, but vital funds at a tough time for non-league clubs with £6,000 on offer for Hendon, who almost solely rely on the hard work of volunteers like Guntupalli.

“It would further cement how great a season this has been so far and go into the history books of one of those games where you just had to be there,” he added.

“The cost-of-living crisis is really hitting football clubs hard, it’s getting so much more expensive to run these football clubs and matches like this really push up the clubs name.

“The minute we beat Oldham the number of followers our social media started to get, and the interactions were on a different level, we haven’t had that sort of interaction since we played the Arsenal under-18 side two or three years ago.

“We wouldn’t be anywhere without the volunteers.

“There are never going to be enough words to describe how important they are. I can say with a hand on my heart that I think we have some of the best volunteers across the country.

“They’re fans that put in all of this hard work and they’re the ones that deserve the most.”

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