BROMLEY 0 HORNCHURCH 1
No coaches, no train, no problems for the 200 who made their own way to the ground. Everyone was already fired up, thanks to the remarks on the home club’s forum – “AFC Hornchurch, who play in the Ryman League Premier Division, will be looking to cause an upset”.
Would there be an upset? The only upset would be if the home side won.
Kris Lee came into the starting line up, whilst Woody replaced Michelle on the physio bench, and once Urchins have got over the shock of finding that the pitch is ultra-wide, the match started in bright sunshine. Bromley, with the unusual colour of having one sleeve black and the other sleeve white, started confidently, and McDonnell’s long range shot hit Lee Brown and went out for a first minute corner> Fazakerley took the corner and put the ball into the side netting. Urchins worked the ball up field and Lee Brown took a good pass form Frank Curley but was crowded out and the ball ran out for a goal kick. A long throw from Billy Coyne found Simon Parker who was brought down, and from the free kick Andy Tomlinson’s shot was well saved by Williams. Parker again nearly got through but was fouled by Obaze, and Tomlinson touched the free kick to Lee Brown, but :Lee could not get the ball into the middle as Toppin came in quickly.
Bromley struggled to get into the match but were awarded a free kick on the edge of the area for reasons known only to the referee. Fazakerley took the kick and Brightly saved well, tipping the shot around the post. Fazakerley took the corner, Tomlinson part cleared, and the ball fell to I’anson whose shot was deflected out for another corner. Fazakerley again took the kick and Dale Brightly held the ball under pressure from O’Sullivan.
Tomlinson almost put Kris Lee away but he was crowded out by two defenders, and then Janney and Lee combined to give Simon Parker a chance, but Williams was quickly out of goal to smother the ball on the edge of the area. Urchins, urged on by their 200 following, continued to dominate and when Billy Coyne sent Mark Janney away on the right, Mark’s cross was handled by ex-Urchin Adam Everitt. The referee decided against waving a yellow card, although there appeared to be no other alternative, and MARK JANNEY stepped up to slot the ball home. Cue jubilation behind the goal, whilst the already despondent home support looked even more unhappy.
Bromley tried hard to get into the game, and a good pass from McDonnell found McBean whose cross found no one anywhere near to the ball as it rolled across the goal. Tomlinson almost broke through only to be fouled by Toppin, and Tomlinson took the free kick, took the return from Parker, and his excellent centre found Fiston Manuella just beaten to the ball by Williams. A long throw by Billy Coyne was palmed out by Williams, to Tomlinson, whose shot was saved by Williams, who was almost single handedly keeping Bromley in the match.
The referee then awarded a free kick to Bromley on the edge of the area, again for reasons why were obvious only to himself, and Fazakerley delighted the away following by hammering the ball high and wide. At the other end, Kris Lee sent Parker away but Obaze tackled well, whilst both John Purdie and Frank Curley seemed to have the home forwards well under control, with a series of timely tackles. The best move of the half came when Mark Janney found Elliot Styles, who touched on to Fiston Manuella, and thence on to Tomlinson, back to Fiston and back to Styles, whose swerving cross eluded the home keeper but drifted wide of the post.
The one goal lead at half time looked poor reward for such a dominant display. But the away support was in jubilant mood and some were already wondering who they would have in the next round.
Home captain Toppin was replaced at half time by Ryan Hall, with Nic McDonnell taking over as captain. Urchins started strongly, and Kris Lee raced solo upfield and once again Williams came to the rescue for Bromley. A quick pass form midfield then sent O’Sullivan away and Purdie came over quickly to tackle, playing the ball up to Janney who in turn sent a long pass to Simon Parker, who touched back to Janney, whose hard drive was deflected out by Adam Everitt. Tomlinson’s corner was held by Williams, who threw the ball out and it was played up to McDonnell whose long run was stopped by Purdie’s timely tackle, to concede a corner, which Fazakerley hit high and far over the goal to almost the other side of the pitch where the ball ran out for a goal kick.
Tomlinson, unstoppable in midfield, then found Brown overlapping on the left and from his centre, Janney touched inside to Kris Lee who excellent scoring chance was foiled by the awkward bounce of the ball and Kris was crowded out before he could put the ball over the line. Tomlinson again, this time with a first time shot as Williams clearance fell invitingly, but Williams recovered well to save. Another good move, Manuella to Lee, to Tomlinson, to Lee Brown, and yet again it was Williams who kept the score down. Janney won a corner by sheer persistence, and Tomlinson swung the ball in, Williams doing well to turn the ball over the bar for another corner. Tomlinson played the corner short to Billy Coyne, whose cross was pumped back up field to Fazakerley, who was tackled by Elliot Styles who had raced back down field to cover.
Yet another free kick to Bromley, once again for reasons not obvious, and ten yards from the edge of the area, and this time the ball cannoned off the wall. And at last, a free kick to the Urchins, with Everitt the offender, having brought down Kris Lee, and Fiston Manuella headed inches wide from Janney’s kick. A minute later and it was Everitt again, this time bringing down Styles, the referee deciding to again be lenient with his card, and Dale Brightly punted the ball deep into the home goalmouth, where they survived a massive hand ball appeal. On came Dean Green, for Simon Parker, and he immediately won the ball in midfield and found Kris Lee, whose shot skimmed the bar.
A free kick to Bromley, again ten yards out, saw Brightly save well from Ryan Hall, and Ryan Hall, two minutes later, hit another free kick from almost the same place, this time sending the ball high over the bar. Adam Everitt tried the referee’s patience once too often, and was finally booked for yet another mistimed tackle, having had a very difficult afternoon against the wing runs from Mark Janney and the overlapping runs from Billy Coyne, who is rapidly developing into one of the best full backs Urchins have had.
With Urchins seemingly cruising home, it all changed when a harmless long ball was chased by McDonnell, who attempted to flick the ball past Dale Brightly, the ball hitting Dale’s hand. The home crowd, up to now completely silent, screamed for hand ball, the linesman duly obliged, and after a brief consultation with the referee, Dale was shown the red card, to the delight of the home crowd, who clearly sensed that they could snatch something from their lost cause. Elliot Styles took over in goal, and Donny Barnard came on to replace Kris Lee, sprinting into position in defence. Everyone came back for the free kick, Ryan Hall took a long run, and the ball cannoned out off the wall, and Frank Curley played it out for a corner. Fazakerley sent over an inswinger, and Curley played it out for another corner. Fazakerley again took the corner, but the referee ordered a re-take as there were two balls on the pitch – perhaps because Bromley could not score with the one they had – and again Fazakerley swerved the ball into the goalmouth, with Barnard pumping it away.
Ten men Urchins then found they really had eleven all the time, thanks to the incredible volume of noise coming from the Urchins following, who cheered every tackle, every clearance, to the echo.
Curley and Barnard combined to thwart O’Sullivan, and O’Sullivan then hit a shot wide, whilst at the other end Janney’s shot skimmed the post. And then came the save of the match, of any match in fact. McDonnell floated the ball over from the left, O’Sullivan, just short of the goal line, headed downwards, and Elliot Styles hurled himself to his left to touch the ball around the post.
And then came the save of the match, of any match in fact. McDonnell floated the ball over from the left, O’Sullivan, just short of the goal line, headed downwards, and Elliot Styles hurled himself to his left to touch the ball around the post. – No, it did not happen twice, but it is worth repeating. Styles was mobbed by his team mates, and Fazakerley again sent over an inswinger, too much this time, as the ball drifted well behind the goal. The referee announced five minutes stoppages, although the match was already into the third minute of stoppage time, and with the home side now piling everyone forward, Styles saved from Hall. When the ball was played deep over from the right, O’Sullivan tried a spectacular overhead kick – the trouble with spectacular overhead kicks is that if they go wrong, the away supporters roar with laughter – hence loud laughter from the Urchins end of the ground. The final moments of the match almost saw Urchins increase their lead, when Mark Janney raced fully 80 yards up field and his shot brought an excellent save out of home keeper Williams.
And so it was all over, and the music over the tannoy was ‘I like it’ by Gerry and the Pacemakers. Most appropriate, we all certainly liked it a lot.