HORNCHURCH 1 TONBRIDGE 1
HFC – Darren Behcet – Dave McSweeney – Michael Spencer – Frankie Curley – Ronnie Fletcher – Simon Glover – Tambeson Eyong – Jon Hunt (Ashley Taylor-Forbes 68) - Aaron Gayle (Maharaj Lal Bulu 81) – Martin Tuohy - Jo Flack (Riba 80)
TAFC – Lee Morgan (Joe Hayes 70) – Danny Walder – Jon Heath (15 Jake Beecroft 30) – Scott Kinch – Ben Judge – Ben Andrews – Sonny Miles – Tony Storey – Jon Main (12 Ade Olorunda HT) – Frannie Cullin – Lee Browning – also played 14 Alwayne Jones – 16 Tim Olurunda – 17 Sam Collins
Referee Keith Yeo
Scorers – Ben Andrews 49 (T) – Aaron Gayle 54 (H)
This was the first of three consecutive home matches for Hornchurch, as the match at Heybridge Swifts next Tuesday has been called off.
Hornchurch were missing several players due to injury and unavailability, and with Tonbridge fielding a full strength team, a draw might appear to be a credit to Jim McFarlane’s injury hit squad. For the supporters who were present however, Hornchurch provided for long periods dictated the play, and they could have won comfortably, were it not for two blatant penalty appeals turned down. Such was the superiority of the home side that visitors Tonbridge twice in the second half resorted to somewhat unsavoury tactics which in a league match would surely have had the referee reaching for a red card or two.
Despite lacking Elliot Styles, Dave Collis, Reiss Noel and Lewis Smith, Hornchurch powered forward and could have taken the lead when Dave McSweeney sent Tambeson Eyong away, and from Tam’s cross, visiting keeper Lee Morgan did remarkably well to tip Aaron Gayle’s header over the bar. At the other end Danny Walder looked dangerous, and it was from one of his passes that Jon Main turned sharply to hit his shot narrowly wide of the post.
Hornchurch could have taken the lead when Tambeson Eyong went racing through the middle, beating three defenders, only to be hacked down just six yards from goal. The ball rolled loose and Aaron Gayle rolled the ball gently goalwards, where keeper Morgan grabbed it just on the line. With everyone expecting a penalty, and, had it been a league match, a red card for the offender, play was allowed to continue.
If one penalty rejection was not enough, when Jo Flack was chopped down as he went for goal a few minutes later, five yards inside the area, once again play was allowed to continue. Keeper Morgan then made an excellent save to tip a vicious drive from otside the area over the bar.
At half time the club shop was inundated with supporters all wanting to buy the newly published Official History of Hornchurch FC, and stocks were rapidly depleted.
Tonbridge took a surprise lead early in the second half when a weakly hit shot from BEN ANDREWS rolled almost apologetically over the line, but Hornchurch quickly drew level when Martin Tuohy made ground on the left and the Tonbridge defence could only watch as his perfectly placed cross reached AARON GAYLE, who hammered the ball into the net to level the score.
Gayle nearly put Hornchurch ahead with another good shot, which Morgan did well to turn around the post, and such was Hornchurch’s superiority that the referee twice had to intervene when the visiting team lost control and what can be best described as mistimed tackles led to two unsavoury incidents, with referee and both linesmen racing to the scene, and yet once again there were no red cards.
Tambeson Eyong was once again the victim of some very bad tackles – is this the only way that visiting defences can stop him? – and Tonbridge held out by any means they could as Hornchurch threatened to overwhelm their defence.