A goal 10 minutes from the break was enough to ensure the last ever game to be played at Mill Field was one to remember for the hosts.
AVELEY 1 HORNCHURCH 0
AFC – Johnson ©, Odatio, Clark, Toner, Spillane, Jaffa, Mitchell (Bauti 90+4), Pinto, Bloomfield, Maja (Noone 90+4), Gleed (Cassidy-Sinclair 77)
Subs – Luther, Paxman
HFC – Mott, Cohen (Purcell 73), Nesbitt (Cooper 73), Lee, Easterford, Styles ©, Bantick (Thompson 67), Chouman, McKenzie, Touhy, Seymour
Subs – Wall, Bentley
Officials – A Williams with A Hickson-Lovence and O Coleman
Scorer – Jerrimiah Maja 37
Bookings – Gleed 26 (A) – McKenzie 41 (H) – Mitchell 42 (A) – Clark 58 (A) – Pinto 55 (A) – Cohen 62 (H) – Toner 67 (A) – Clark 86 (A) (second yellow – OFF)
Duration 47.00 + 53.00
AVELEY 1 HORNCHURCH 0
The 6.30 pm kick off meant that all other matches in the league had already been played, and Hornchurch knew that they needed to win in order to hold on to their third place in the table, and, more importantly, to a guaranteed home match in the play-off semi final.
As a result, the pressure was all on Hornchurch, and once Aveley took the lead the Urchins grew increasingly desperate in their efforts to pull the game back.
The bumpy pitch did little to encourage decent football, and the general flow of play was punctuated by a succession of free kicks, mainly against the home side, who also picked up six yellow cards, one of which resulted in a red for Joe Clark.
Aveley had the first scoring opportunity, but Michael Toner put his shot high and over the bar.
Hornchurch then proceeded to force the pace, with Leon McKenzie running on to a Sam Bantick pass but shooting wide of the post.
Lamar Johnson, in the home goal, created confusion in his own defence when he completely miskicked the ball on the bumpy surface, but Abs Seymour could not take advantage from the loose ball, his cross going out of play.
Hornchurch won a series of corners, and when a half clearance fell invitingly in front of Elliot Styles, he placed his shot high over the bar.
Aveley rarely offered any threat, although Jerrimiah Maja sliced a shot wide, but the play was concentrated at the Aveley end of the field, where Abs Seymour gave the home defence more than a few worries with his inswinging corners, most of which were punched away by an overworked Johnson.
Johnson was perhaps fortunate when he stuck out a leg to divert a Martin Tuohy shot around the post, and he then held on to a Bantick free kick.
At the other end Maja set up Ross Gleed but he volleyed high over the bar, but Aveley took the lead, very much against the run of play, when the defence failed to clear a free kick and the ball landed at the feet of Jerrimiah Maja, whose hard shot eluded Sam Mott and went into the net for what turned out to be the only goal of the game.
Close to half time Johnson made another fine save, this time from Sam Bantick, after McKenzie had jumped over the ball as it came across from the left.
The second half was punctuated by free kicks, bookings, and stoppages due to minor injuries to home players.
And as time marched on, so Hornchurch grew increasingly ragged. Aveley twice went close on breakaways, when a Mason Bloomfield shot was deflected for a corner, and a Matt Mitchell centre met the same fate.
When Gary Cohen sent a long ball out to Martin Tuohy, he centred towards the far post, but McKenzie sent his header narrowly past the post, and shortly afterwards Johnson saved well from Tuohy.
McKenzie had another attempt blocked, and the free kicks continued to mount up. The referee had been overworked on the bookings front, and with four minutes to go Joe Clark received his second yellow card of the night, and Hornchurch threw everyone forward in the final few minutes.
This was Aveley’s last match at Mill Field, and it was prolonged by eight minutes due to the many stoppages, and in the seventh minute of stoppage time, Johnson made the save of the match when he dived to save from Kenzer Lee, who had headed powerfully at goal from a George Purcell centre.
And that proved to be the final chance of the match, as Aveley won their last-ever game at Mill Field.