A superb first half brace by Brad Warner and an excellent defensive display across the back 5 gave the Urchins a fantastic win that maintains their positin at the top of the Bostik North.
HEYBRIDGE SWIFTS 0 HORNCHURCH 2
HS – Sambridge, Ramon, Cawley, Dark, Henshaw, Krasniqi, Griffiths (Godbold 71), Monsheju (Stevenson 58), Sappleton, Chatting (Smith 71), Luque
Subs – Siligato, Conway
HFC – Mott, Bentley, Porter, Lee, Cooper, Oluwatimilehin, Roberts, Livings, McKenzie (Styles 90), Warner, Fanimo (Fairweather-Johnson 69)
Subs – Joseph, Purcell, Hursit
Scorer – Warner 8 – Warner 44
Bookings – Sappleton 45 (HS) – Henshaw 57 (HS) – Luque 63 (HS) – McKenzie 70 (H)
HEYBRIDGE SWIFTS 0 HORNCHURCH 2
The rain that had threatened throughout the day held off and a crowd of 196 gathered at Scraley Road, where Swifts, in a possibly misleading mid-table position – misleading as Swifts, due to two lengthy cup runs, have nine matches to catch up with the leaders, entertained table-topping Hornchurch.
Hornchurch took an early lead when, after eight minutes, Brad Warner ran on to a long ball over the top of the defence, cut inside, rounded a defender, and fired hard into the net.
Play was largely confined to midfield, with neither defence prepared to concede any ground, although on 21 minutes a Warner free kick was deflected for a corner, which was comfortably cleared.
Heybridge were unable to create many scoring opportunities, but they went close on 35 minutes when Ricky Sappleton rose at the far post, but his header lacked direction and went wide.
Clear-cut chances were few and far between, although on 38 minutes Warner made ground along the wing, and crossed into the middle, but there was no one able to get the final touch.
Swifts came more into the game as they strived to draw level and on 41 minutes a shot-cum-cross went across the face of the goal.
A minute from half time Brad Warner gained possession in midfield and surged forward, and held off a challenge from Sappleton, before curling his shot past Danny Sambridge and into the net. Sappleton was booked for the foul prior to the goal.
Three minutes into the second half, Swifts won a free kick in a dangerous position outside the area, but the wall held firm, and the follow up shot cleared the bar.
Swifts tried hard to get back into the game, and Ryan Henshaw and Juan Luque both went into the referee’s book in the space of five minutes, with Toby Stevenson replacing Timothy Monsheju in between.
On 68 minutes the Hornchurch defence was breached but the header went wide of the post.
Jim McFarlane also made a change, bringing on Theo Fairweather-Johnson for Matthias Fanimo. A minute later it was the turn of Leon McKenzie to be shown a yellow card, and Swifts then made a double substitution, Lewis Godbold and George Smith replacing Ben Griffiths and Harrison Chatting.
On 71 minutes a long throw into the Hornchurch goalmouth eluded everyone, and four minutes later Warner opened up the left side before feeding through to McKenzie, but his shot was wide of the target.
Hornchurch had another chance on 75 minutes when the ball fell to Warner, but his hard shot rose too high and cleared the bar.
Swifts continued to press and a shot went over the bar, but play flowed from end to end with Hornchurch looking dangerous whenever they came upfield.
As the minutes ticked down, Hornchurch looked more than capable of holding out, and Elliot Styles replaced Leon McKenzie to play out the four minutes added on for stoppage time.
But it was Hornchurch who had the better of the extra minutes – Olumide Oluwatimilehin made a penetrating run to win a free kick, which Warner took, and Sambridge made an excellent save to keep the ball out.
Hornchurch remain as league leaders, on 60 points, three more than nearest challengers Bowers & Pitsea, and with three matches in hand. Maldon & Tiptree drew with Mildenhall and are now on 48 points, whilst Heybridge are on 31 points, but with nine matches in hand.