Following a cagey first half, second half goals from Ross Wall and top scorer Leon McKenzie were enough to ensure the Urchins returned home with all 3 points.
VCD ATHLETIC 0 HORNCHURCH 2
VCD – Freund, Awotwi (Boulding 77), Joseph, Symons, Bruce, Essuman, Hahn, Duncan ©, Stanley, Perkins (Chapman 67), Taylor
Subs – Butler, Hogan, Gorbell
HFC – Mott, Bentley ©, Nesbitt, Lee, Cooper, Chouman, Cohen (Hursit 75), Wall, McKenzie, Coker (Morrish 87), Adeniji (Coley 90+3)
Subs – Styles, Hussain
Officials – Isaac Searle with Piotr Zachwieja and Alexis Stacchini
Scorers – Wall 49 – McKenzie 55
Bookings – Duncan 11 (V) – Wall 51 (H) – Bruce 74 (V) OFF -Adeniji 86 (H)
Duration 46.00 + 50.00
VCD ATHLETIC 0 HORNCHURCH 2
The afternoon started bright and sunny. It ended with torrential rain quickly followed by torrential hail with a bit of snow.
Hornchurch introduced their two latest signings into the starting line up – Teddy Nesbitt started the season at East Thurrock, and played against Hornchurch in the Essex Senior Cup earlier in the season. He was a regular in the East Thurrock team, before linking up with Billericay Town in November. After three matches he rejoined East Thurrock, playing a further three times, before signing for Hornchurch last week.
Usman (Ossie) Adeniji has been a regular in the Witham Town squad this season, and scored against Hornchurch when Witham came to Bridge Avenue earlier this season.
The pitch was very heavy, neither team could make much impression on the opposing defence, and the first fifteen minutes was largely uneventful, until Gary Cohen played the ball through to Ross Wall, who touched on to Leon McKenzie, but Joe Bruce made a neat interception to clear.
Adeniji and Tobi Coker linked up a minute later, the latter forcing Niklas Freund into a good diving save.
VCD briefly came into the game as an attacking force, winning a free kick, only for the ball to be fired high and over the bar.
At the other end, Nesbitt sent over a dangerous corner, the ball eluding everyone before being punted to safety, and Freund outjumped McKenzie shortly afterwards to punch clear a Nesbitt corner from the right.
The best chance of the half fell to Adeniji three minutes before the interval, when he found himself with a clear run at goal, only to place his shot wide of both the keeper and the post.
Hornchurch started the second half confidently, and they took the lead when Sam Mott played the ball long and deep into the opposing half, where McKenzie ran forward and gained possession. Freund was unable to hold the shot, and Ross Wall quickly followed up to open the scoring.
VCD replied, winning a corner, which Mott comfortably held, and two minutes later Nesbitt sent in a high centre from the left, Freund dived to keep the ball out of the net but it ran loose to Leon McKenzie, who volleyed home his 27th goal of the season.
Freund did well to prevent McKenzie from adding to his tally, following a good pass by Tobi Coker, and on 66 minutes Freund saved again, this time from Wall, and although McKenzie followed up to place the ball firmly into the net, the linesman raised his flag to indicate offside, and the goal was not allowed to stand.
The home side were reduced to ten shortly afterwards when Joe Bruce was shown a straight red having denied Hornchurch a scoring opportunity with a mistimed tackle.
Mott saved well from a Lewis Perkins shot, tipping the ball over the bar, but play remained primarily at the VCD end of the ground.
And then the weather took a hand – the amber-red sunset was suddenly replaced by torrential rain, which in turn was replaced by torrential hail, with some snow thrown in for good measure, and the final few minutes was played out in increasingly difficult conditions.