CRAY WANDERERS 2 AFC HORNCHURCH 5
On a baking hot day, Hornchurch took the field wearing their new style purple-mauve kit, to gaps of disbelief from the masses of Hornchurch followers among the crowd of just 193. Why such a glaring colour? Simple, really, as all the other teams in the league play in either red, blue or yellow, which means that it was difficult to get an away kit that did not clash with one third of the other teams – witness the farcical Tooting matches last season.
Hornchurch started confidently, when, straight from the kick off Danny Young misheaded a long ball out for a corner. Tommy Black sent the kick over but it was cleared easily. A long Dave McSweeney shot from out on the right wing almost caught out keeper Andy Walker, but Cray began to take control, and looked dangerous when Jack Clark took a short corner, the ball was played back to him and he sent over a dangerous dipping centre. Danny Young got to the ball first and his header was saved well by Darren Behcet. But for Danny Young this was the end of his involvement, as he needed lengthy attention before being replaced by Sam Long.
Cray pressed forward and took the lead when they were awarded a somewhat questionable free kick – one of many questionable decisions – and Clark’s excellent free kick was glanced home by LEIGH BREMNER. For the next fifteen minutes Cray powered forward, and when Long rounded Tambeson Eyong, back in defence, he raced towards goal but hit his shot high over the bar. Shortly afterwards Reiss Noel flung himself at a goal bound attempt to head out for a corner. Long sent the corner over and Darren Behcet punched out from almost under the bar, with Frankie Curley completing the clearance.
Hornchurch survived heavy pressure, but Cray could not penetrate the purple-mauve defence, where Dave McSweeney, Elliot Styles, Michael Spencer and Reiss Noel mopped up everything that was flung at them. A most unusual decision – to allow play to continue after the linesman had signalled a throw – infuriated the Hornchurch defence, and it some considerable time before he finally awarded the throw to Cray.
Hornchurch started to gain control of the midfield, where Simon Glover, Frankie Curley and Tambeson Eyong pressed forward, and Martin Tuohy took possession of a McSweeney pass to run on and his shot skimmed the cross bar. Cray were now struggling, and when Eyong tried to break through on the right, Alex Bentley conceded a free kick out on the right wing. MICHAEL SPENCER took the kick and sent the ball hard towards goal, where Walker, perhaps distracted by Frankie Curley, could not prevent the ball from sailing into the net.
Just a minute later Cray thought they had equalised – but the away support did not think so, nor did the linesman, who stood with flag erect, and more importantly, nor did the referee, who awarded an indirect free kick for offside. And Hornchurch swarmed back up field, and the home goal came under more pressure. On 45 minutes, Lewis Smith drew his marker, and played the ball back to Dave McSweeney, who sent the ball over from the right, to MARTIN TUOHY, who calmly hammered the ball hard into the net for a magnificent goal, admired by everyone except Tina, who was distracted by a large spider which was crawling towards her at great speed.
Six minutes of stoppage time followed, during which neither team got close enough to threaten. But straight from the kick off in the second half, Sam Long went speeding through and headed towards goal, sending in a vicious shot which brought the save of the match from Darren Behcet – it might even be a candidate for save of the season. A Clark corner was headed away by Noel, and the ball was played to Tommy Black, who made ground and his hard shot from outside the area was deflected around the post by Alex Bentley. Michael Spencer took the corner on the right, Simon Glover flicked the ball on, and MARTIN TUOHY flicked it into the net.
Play was then held up for an injury to Dave McSweeney and Darren Behcet. McSweeney got up about a couple of minutes, but Behcet lay prone for much longer, before eventually being able to continue. This signalled on onslaught by the home side, and Simon Glover headed a Chris Saunders cross out for a corner. Clark sent the ball over and Curley headed away. Cray came back almost immediately and Darren Behcet made another incredible save, when he kept out a header from just six yards away. Tyrone Sterling followed up and his shot hit the post, and Elliot Styles cleared up field. Hornchurch were then awarded a free kick, which McSweeney took and keeper Walker could not hold the ball, and Martin Tuohy promptly followed up to score, only for what seemed like a perfect goal to be disallowed on the advice of the linesman. Tuohy nearly scored again with a header, which Walker tipped around the post, and Black’s corner was held by the overworked Walker.
Tommy Black next set off on a fifty yard run, starting well within his own half, and continued up field, rounding three defenders, before he finished his run with a shot that was worthy of a goal, had not keeper Walker made a marvellous save to turn the ball around the post. Spencer took the corner, and Smith, at the near post, flicked the ball inches over the bar. Jo Flack came on to replace Lewis Smith, and Hornchurch continued to dominate. Martin Tuohy started the move which led to the fourth goal with a pass to TOMMY BLACK, who outpaced the defence once again and calmly slotted the ball home. Black nearly added another with a similar run but the ball went narrowly wide, and then Cray pulled a goal back when LEIGH BREMNER netted from close range.
Ashley Taylor-Forbes came on for the limping Frankie Curley and Ronnie Fletcher replaced Tommy Black. Cray tried hard to pull a goal back but the closest they came was when Elliot Styles headed away from a corner. And Hornchurch made the result safe when keeper Walker came under pressure from JO FLACK who had chased hard after a long ball from defence, and Jo calmly slotted the ball home for the fifth goal.