AFC HORNCHURCH 0 HORSHAM 2
For the second season in succession Horsham took three points home with a two nil win, and once again survived strong Hornchurch pressure to do so. This match was a tale of two penalties – one which should have been given and which was not, and one which should not have been given but was. And it was Hornchurch who were n the receiving end of both decisions. Hornchurch started well, when Lewis Smith put Jon Hunt into a shooting position, but Hunt hit his shot wide of the goal. Hunt then carved open the visiting defence with a well placed free kick which keeper Matthew Armstrong-Ford punched onto the post and the ball bounced loose to Elliot Styles who fired the ball back across goal where there was no one who could touch it over the line.
Horsham came briefly into the game when a Dane Luchford free kick found Daniel Morris, whose header was well saved by Darren Behcet. And then came the first penalty, or rather non-penalty. Tambeson Eyong made ground down the right wing, cut into the middle and his shot was blocked. The ball rebounded to Martin Tuohy who raced into the area and home in on goal, where he was pulled back. Tuohy staggered but regained his footing, and hit in a shot which Armstrong-Ford touched onto the bar. With everyone expecting a penalty, the referee decided that a goal kick would suffice, a decision which was as inexplicable as it was incorrect.
And a minute later came an incident which effectively turned the match Horsham’s way. Kane Rice linked with Tony Nwachukwu and Reiss Noel tackled well to concede a corner. Nwachukwu sent the ball over and Darren Behcet rose well to hold the ball, but collided with Elliot Styles and lay motionless. Darren received attention of six minutes – yes six, although the referee only added on four of those minutes as stoppages – and eventually Elliot Styles went in goal, with Ronnie Fletcher coming on and taking over in defence. Horsham were encouraged to come forward and it was Noel who again conceded a corner from a Morris run at goal. Nwachukwu floated the ball over and Jon Hunt headed away. Lewis Smith then made ground and his shot was deflected for a corner, taken by Hunt, which led to a further corner, also sent over by Hunt, who was then back in action at the other end when he cleared a corner taken by Nwachukwu. Hunt then repeated the process two minutes later, but this time his clearance found Tambeson Eyong who raced through the defence and set up Lewis Smith, whose shot went over the bar. The half ended with another Hunt corner, which was cleared by Jamahl King.
Hornchurch came out for the second half in attacking mode, and Martin Tuohy combined with Frankie Curley to set up Tambeson Eyong, but Tam hit the ball a fraction too high and over the bar. Michael Spencer opened up the play on the left to find Jon Hunt, whose cross was palmed out by Armstrong-Ford. Horsham briefly rallied with a corner which was comfortably cleared, and Elliot Styles was little troubled in goal, whilst keeper Armstrong-Ford saved well from Lewis Smith at the other end. A long up field kick by Elliot Styles found Tuohy, whose run and cross caused havoc in the visiting defence until Williams Peauroux played the ball out for a corner. Hunt played a short corner to Spencer, took the return pass and floated the ball over to Simon Glover whose shot was too high and just over the bar.
And then came the second – farcical – penalty incident, when Dave McSweeney tackled well to clear the ball, and two seconds later the referee stopped play and awarded a penalty. TONY NWACHUKWU scored from the spot, to loud jeers from the terracing for what many considered to be a ridiculous decision. Hornchurch came back strongly with Lewis Smith running on to Hunt’s pass. Lewis cut inside and his shot appeared to be a certain goal, only for the ball to swerve into the side netting.
Jon Hunt totally demoralised the Horsham defence with his pin point passing, and it was a Hunt run and shot which was deflected out for another corner, though keeper Armstrong-Ford did well to keep the cross out. Jo Flack came on for Spencer and Ashley Taylor-Forbes for Glover.
And then Lewis Smith was scythed down as he went through and Hunt’s free kick was inches over the bar. A run by Tambeson Eyong ended with a further Hunt corner, whilst the home crowd were angered when a clear cut hand ball was ignored and the referee allowed play to continue when the incident surely deserved at least a yellow card, as the hand ball had prevented a goal scoring opportunity.
With the crowd already incensed at some of the decisions, then came the one and only booking – Frankie Curley’s mistimed tackle saw the referee wave a straight red – was the referee influenced by the incredible over-reaction by many of the Horsham team?
A Horsham corner was easily cleared and Taylor-Forbes made a good run who set up Martin Tuohy whose shot was inches over. In stoppage time Horsham scored again when Conor Hider – standing what appeared to be several yards offside – glided the ball into the net. Another three points lost, and yet again, for the third match in succession, the match officials came under close scrutiny.