NO GOALS AT PURFLEET, THANKS TO AN INSPIRED PERFORMANCE BY RICHARD WRAY IN THE HOME GOAL
ROMFORD 0 HORNCHURCH 0
RFC – Wray, Boswell, Potter, Toms, Adebayo, Mallett, Dicks ©, Thomas (Bankole 79), McKenzie (Ogboin 88), Green (Taylor 84)
Subs – Goldstone, Tubey
HFC – Mott, Chouman, Woodward, Styles © (Da Cruz 53), Cooper, Morrish (Bentley 56), Coley (McKenzie 73), Lee, Freeman, Purcell, Symons
Subs – Collis, Knight
Officials – P Killip with R Albert and J Howard
Booking – Cooper 36 (H)
Duration 47.00 + 48.00
ROMFORD 0 HORNCHURCH 0
Hornchurch fielded five players who were making their debuts, and it took them some time to settle against a Romford team that had four ex-Urchins in their own line up.
And one of the ex-Urchins, Richard Wray, was instrumental in denying Hornchurch all three points.
The first half started slowly, although Hornchurch had an early chance to take the lead when Kenzer Lee made a defence-splitting pass to set up James Morrish, but Wray made the first of several good saves.
Romford rarely threatened, although when Jamie Dicks played a short free kick back to Ryan Boswell, the resulting cross towards the far post was turned away for a corner.
George Woodward took a free kick, conceded by Ryan Mallett, and Kenzer Lee went close with a powerful header.
When Elliot Styles intercepted a half clearance from a corner, he floated the ball back into the goalmouth, where Wray, under pressure from Nathan Cooper, could not hold the ball, and although Ricky Freeman quickly stabbed the loose ball over the line the whistle had already blown for a free kick, with Cooper becoming the only player to be booked.
Mallett conceded another free kick, and was perhaps fortunately to escape a yellow card, and Romford were equally fortunate when George Purcell powered the kick hard against the defensive wall.
Romford had few chances, their best coming from Jamie Dicks’ free kicks, both of which were held comfortably by Sam Mott.
Close to half time, Mott saved well from Jonathan Adebayo.
Hornchurch came out strongly for the second half, and had 80 percent of the territorial play, without being able to find a way past an inspired Wray in the home goal.
Wray saved well from Purcell five minutes into the second period, but then Hornchurch were hit by two injuries in quick succession, first losing Styles, who was replaced by JJ Da Cruz, and three minutes later losing Morrish, to be replaced by Alex Bentley.
In between, Wray saved well from Purcell who had powered in from the left wing.
Purcell then sent an excellent pass through to Ayrton Coley, who ran towards goal but was crowded out by a packed defence.
In a rare Romford breakaway, Mott turned a high centre from the right wing over the bar, and a minute later Purcell again sent Coley away, and Wray made another excellent save.
Wray was back in action, turning a Jed Freeman shot out for a corner, and Leon McKenzie came on for Coley as Hornchurch continued to press forward.
A Woodward free kick found JJ, whose hard shot went narrowly over the bar, and when Alex Bentley, playing in midfield, moved in from the right, his shot seemed certain to end up in the net, but Wray grabbed the ball on the line.
Three minutes were allowed for stoppages, and in the last few seconds Romford were awarded a free kick out on the right, and the ball was swung into the goalmouth, where Mott saved as the final whistle went.
Nil nil is an improvement on last season’s nil two at Ship Lane, but Hornchurch can only have themselves to blame for not taking advantage of their territorial superiority.
And the four ex-Urchins in the Romford line up? – Richard Wray, Tom Potter, Ryan Mallet and Hayes Thomas.