TONBRIDGE 1 HORNCHURCH 2
Havering has just one senior club – local paper please note - and many thought that there would be none at all after the troubles of last season. But manager Colin McBride was never in any doubt, and he has got together enough players to have two teams. And much more to the point – these players want to play for the club. He was rewarded when over one hundred supporters made their way down the M25 and team and management were applauded loudly when they took the field.
Looking at the programme, many were puzzled that Donny Barnard was listed as being in goal. On closer inspection, it transpired that the players were listed in alphabetical order. Andy Tomlinson had failed a fitness test, and both Mark Janney and Paul Shave were out with injury. On a bright sunny day Urchins kicked into a headwind with gusts up to 20 mph, and took a few minutes to settle. Tonbridge had the early initiative when Watts raced down the left wing and crossed deep into the goalmouth where Darren Behcet did well to catch the ball under heavy pressure. Back came Tonbridge, and long ball found Rook seemingly well offside, but there was no flag and he made ground and crossed low to Booth who saw Behcet make an excellent save from his close range shot. Rook then gathered a loose ball midway inside the Urchins half and hammered a wind assisted shot goalwards, and once again Behcet rose to the occasion, holding on to the ball underneath the bar.
Just when it seemed the pressure would be relentless, Urchins took the lead in the seventh minute. The goal followed a good build up after Mark Goodfellow had cleared the ball, and both Gary Bowes and Ross Wall confused the home defence, which allowed the ball to run out to the left wing where JOE STEVENS, making his debut, cut inside and hammered in a low shot from the edge of the area, the ball dipping under the diving Hogan, to send one hundred Urchins wild with delight.
Tonbridge were not happy, and continued to press forward. And levelled four minutes later in farcical circumstances, when the ball was played into the middle from the left wing, and Elliot Styles’ clearance, with no real danger, hit John Purdie, who slipped over, and Elliot’s follow up clearance, hit three home players, before the ball bounced slowly over the line. Three home players were congratulated, including Jamie Cade and Carl Rook, but it was LEE MINSHULL who jumped up in the air with delight first and he was awarded the goal.
One hundred and fifty Urchins might have looked despondentm but were we really despondent? No, not at all. Soz Yao won a free kick on the right when he was chopped down, and Joe Stevens sent a near perfect left footed cross into the goalmouth, where Donny Barnard moved in to hit a hard shot that rebounded out to Ross Wall, who slipped the ball on to Gary Bowes, who was tackled by Lewis Hamilton.
More farce in the 24th minute when Michael Spencer won the ball in midfield and the home players over-reacted, which led to a mass shout of off off off from the handful of home supporters, and the referee booked Spencer, when many knowledgeable supporters felt that the home player should have got the card.
Urchins now began to settle, and Spencer, rapidly dominating the midfield, played a good ball up to Wall, took the return pass and his centre was deflected for a corner, which Soz Yao took. David Hogan grabbed the inswinging ball, and the referee ignored the appeals of the hundred Urchins behind the goal that the ball was well over the line and he waved play on. Stevens then set out on a long run along the left, and slotted the ball inside to Bowes, whose shot was blocked, the referee ignoring a loud appeal for hand ball on the edge of the area. Bowes made a good run in from the right, exchanged passes with Ross Wall, but his shot went just over the bar.
Tonbridge looked dangerous when a long clearance found Booth who ran on and fired in a hard shot that Behcet did well to save, with the home crowd already beginning to celebrate what they thought was a goal. Michael Spencer then needed attention following a tackle by Jamie Cade, who was booked, though the tackle itself was seemingly innocuous and the booking was harsh.
With half time approaching Steve Ferguson tried a speculative shot from forty yards, and the ball dipped late, and clipped the bar before going over. It took nearly five minutes to play the three minutes indicated for stoppage time, and in the last few seconds Tonbridge could have gone ahead. When he last took an Urchins match the referee had booked five players, and when Soz Yao tackled over in the far left corner, the home crowd predictably howled for a red card, and equally predictably the referee waved a yellow card, although the tackle appeared perfectly legitimate. Everyone came up for the free kick, and the ball was floated over, where it was deflected for a corner. Ferguson took the kick and Behcet caught the ball as the half time whistle went.
The main talking point at half time was why three players had been booked in a match where there had not been a single bad tackle. The wind had dropped for the second half, which began badly when Billy Coyne needed lengthy attention. The dropped ball, inside the penalty area and almost on the touchline at the home end, resulted in a corner, which Watts took, and Behcet rose in fine style to hold, but John Purdie was motionless on the ground and needed attention. Tonbridge began to power forward and Urchins had to give ground, allowing ex-Urchin Scott Gooding ample space to mop up any long balls. Cade and Minshull linked up well for the latter to cross the ball into the goalmouth, where Donny Barnard hammered it to safety.
With Urchins concentrating on defence, manager Colin McBride decided on his first substitution, but it was not a defender – Steve Butterworth came on to replace Ross Wall who had run non stop, with Soz Yao moving over to the left and Butterworth taking up the inside right position. On came Lee Blackburn, who has previously played for Crawley and Welling, to replace Donny Barnard, who had taken quite a bettering in the second half. Soz Yao appeared to like his new role on the left and he set off on a good run which ended with a good save by Hogan. Gary Bowes then outpaced Heath and won a corner. Butterworth took the kick and Styles saw his headed saved by Hogan. But it was the home side who were putting on the pressure. Cade played the ball to Watts, and Minshull jumped over the ball as it came over low, which allowed Booth to home in, but his shot was hammered inches wide and into the crowd.
A long ball from Hogan then saw Minshull lay a pass out to Watts, whose shot hit the post before going out of play. Despite defending for a lot of the time, Urchins always looked lively up front, and Butterworth’s run at goal was stopped by Watts, who escaped a booking. Stevens took the free kick and the ball ran tantalisingly across goal with three players just out of reach. Lewis Hamilton was allowed a lot of space on the right and a Gooding pass allowed him to race away along the wing, but his cross was capably held by Behcet.
Colin McBride then introduced Jon Green in place for Gary Bowes, a clear indication that he thought the match was winnable. Billy Coyne moved up field to send Stevens away, and his shot was blocked by Hamilton. And then came the winning goal. It started inside the Urchins half when the ball was played out to the left where a quick flick by Yao left Hamilton sozzled and Joe Stevens went powering down the left wing, leaving Hamilton in his wake. He sent the ball over low and close to goal and JON GREEN sent 300 Urchins wild with delight when he touched the ball into the net.
Time moved slowly on, and the referee indicated four minutes stoppages. In the fifth minute of the four minutes, Tonbridge were awarded a free kick, which was strongly disputed by the Urchins following, and Storey saw his long shot in from the right side, incredibly turned around the post by Darren Behcet, when a goal looked certain. Ferguson took the corner on the left and Behcet touched it over. Ferguson took the corner on the left and Purdie put it out. Ferguson took the corner on the left and Goodfellow put it out. Ferguson took the corner on the left and Darren Behcet jumped spectacularly to grab the ball, being injured in the process. With 300 Urchins trying to indicate to the referee that time was well and truly up, Lewis Hamilton tried to power in from the right and Lee Blackburn tackled well, playing the ball out to Joe Stevens, who tried a shot from forty yards out, and saw the ball dip just inches wide.
It was all over and the Urchins were loudly applauded off the field by the away following. And as for Colin McBride, his wide grin could be felt as far away as Biggleswade.