Leon McKenzie notched a club record 5th hat trick of the season as the Urchins put in a powerful second half performance to run out 5-2 winners against Great Wakering Rovers.
GREAT WAKERING 2 HORNCHURCH 5
GWR – Skinner, Ring (Kalala 39), Seaden, Kee, Warren, Beale, Butterworth (Age 82), Evans, Gordon (Fatt 89), Guy, Nzengo
Subs – Heather, Jude
HFC – Mott, Bentley, Nesbitt, Lee, Cooper, Chouman, Styles ©, Wall (Joseph 80), McKenzie (Coley 83), Coker (Thompson HT), Adeniji (Cohen 88)
Subs – Da Cruz, Morrish
Officials – Peter Killip with Hossain Tavakkoli and Philip Dunkley
Scorers – Wall 10 (H) – Gordon 21 (G) – Thompson 53 (H) – McKenzie 55 (H) – McKenzie 62p (H) – Mckenzie 76 (H) – Nzengo 87 (G)
Booking – Chouman 67 (H)
Duration 48.00 + 48.00
GREAT WAKERING 2 HORNCHURCH 5
The weather was a mixture of rain, sleet and occasional snow, the pitch was very heavy, having passed two morning pitch inspections, and Hornchurch were playing the team at the foot of the table. An easy afternoon? No.
And although Ross Wall gave the Urchins an early lead, it was the home side that had the better of the first half, and it did not look promising for the second period. And then on came Abs Thompson, and it all changed.
Rovers had a couple of chances early on, but Sam Mott was not troubled, and Hornchurch went ahead when Teddy Nesbitt moved along the left wing, and switched the play to the right, where Ozzie Adeniji sent over the perfect centre for Ross Wall to head home.
Rovers came back strongly and could have drawn level two minutes later, when, following a short corner, the ball was played into the goalmouth, where an unmarked home player headed wide of the target.
Jake Gordon made a great solo run through the middle, and it took a well-timed tackle by Alex Bentley to prevent what seemed to be a certain goal.
Tobi Coker, who had already hammered at shot over the bar a few minutes previously, sliced a shot wide of the goal, and a minute later Rovers drew level, when they were awarded a free kick five yards outside the area. Ricky Evans lurked, but it was Jake Gordon who stepped up to fire the ball over the wall and into the net.
Rovers had the better of the exchanges for the remainder of the half, and good defending by the Hornchurch defence, with Kenzer Lee and Nathan Cooper in control at the back, prevented the home side from taking what would have been a deserved lead.
Hornchurch created just one chance prior to the interval Jed Chouman moving up through the middle, but hitting his shot wide.
Sam Mott had to kick clear when put under pressure by a dreadful back pass from Coker, as Hornchurch struggled towards half time.
And then it all changed – on came Abs Thompson.
But in the first five minutes of the second period, Rovers could have taken the lead – Mott tipped a shot over the bar, and then grabbed the resulting corner under pressure.
Gordon put a free kick hard into the wall, and then sliced a shot wide, before Thompson made a rapid run along the right, his centre being deflected for a corner.
A minute later Hornchurch took the lead – Leon McKenzie played the ball out to Abs Thompson on the right wing, and Abs ran forward and fired a hard shot into the net, despite the efforts of a defender to keep the ball out.
Two minutes later, Thompson again created havoc on the right, and his cross reached Ross Wall, whose shot was turned around he post by Dylan Skinner. Nesbitt sent the corner into a crowded goalmouth, and Leon McKenzie placed the ball into the net from close range.
Hornchurch went further ahead when Skinner brought down Adeniji, and Leon McKenzie made no mistake with the penalty.
Thompson almost added another, but his shot was well saved by Skinner, and McKenzie sent a header narrowly wide, again from a Thompson centre.
Ross Wall went close from another Thompson centre, as did Elliot Styles from a similar move, and Rovers were under some severe pressure. The fifth goal was started by Wall, who switched play out to the left, where Adeniji gave Chouman an opening, but Jed placed the ball in front of Leon McKenzie, who tapped home to complete his fifth hat-trick of the season.
Tobi Joseph came on for Ross Wall, and quickly got onto the end of a Thompson cross, with Skinner saving well.
Adeniji went close with a shot from a narrow angle, when perhaps a cross into the middle might have been better, and Ayrton Coley came on for McKenzie.
As the rain tried to make up its mind if it wanted to turn to sleet, before deciding to treat us all to some more snow, Rovers pulled a goal back through Nathan Nzengo three minutes from full time.
Three more points, and a good performance under very difficult conditions against a team that look far better then their position at the wrong end of the table.
And congratulations to Leon McKenzie, who is the first Hornchurch player to score five hat-tricks in the same season.