MARGATE 0 AFC HORNCHURCH 2
An unchanged line up – or at least that was the intention. But Dave McSweeney injured his ankle in the pre-match warm up and Elliot Styles came into the starting line up. Elliot moved into the middle, of defence with Rickie Hayles covering the right back position. Hornchurch wore their Purple People Eater strip whilst the home side were in blue and white hoops. Frankie Curley was again captain, and Frankie announced his presence in the first minute with a Norman Hunter style tackle which had the handful of home supporters shivering in terror, perhaps thinking that one of the roller coasters had broken lose from the nearby derelict Dreamland.
A long Rickie Hayles throw led to a corner which Michael Spencer took but he directed the ball too low and Dean Hill cleared comfortably, only for the ball to be returned into the are and another corner was promptly conceded. This time Spencer sent it higher into he goalmouth but Craig Cloke had no difficulty in clearing. Margate, on a bone hard, looked dangerous when Laurence Ball made ground and sent the ball dangerously close to goal but Reiss Noel headed away, and Elliot Styles completed the clearance.
Hornchurch began to press, and Joe Anderson broke up a move on the right and moved along the left wing, before crossing the ball to Lewis Smith, whose first time shot cannoned off a defender and was grabbed by keeper Jack Smelt. Styles then combined with Hayles and Tambeson Eyong, but a timely tackle by Dean Hill stopped Tambeson in full flight. Simon Glover set up an opening for Martin Tuohy who shielded the ball before slipping it out to Spencer, but his cross swerved over the bar for a goal kick.
Tambeson was as usual causing problems on the wing whenever he moved forward, and he was stopped in the now tradition manner, to win a free kick. Michael Spencer sent the ball into the goalmouth and it was deflected out for a corner. Spencer took the kick but the ball was cleared. Reiss Noel was dealing capably with anything that Margate could throw at him, and a long Noel pass which found Tuohy, who again shielded the ball before slipping it out to Michael Spencer, whose first time power drive was blocked. Shortly before half time Margate were awarded a free kick about ten yards outside the area. Kwasi Appiah placed his kick over the wall but was thwarted by an excellent diving save by Joe Woolley. The ball bounced loose and Tom Bradbrook was quick to react, but under pressure from Styles and Noel, his shot went into the side netting.
Entertainment at half time was provided by the over zealous stewards who refused to allow anyone to walk in front of the main stand, to the extent that they erected rope barriers at the entrances.
And with Hornchurch supporters still walking around the back of the stand at the start of the second half, Hornchurch took the lead. The move started from Joe Anderson, and when the ball reached Lewis Smith on the left, Lewis weaved his way through and appeared to get crowded out, but he pulled the ball across goal where MICHAEL SPENCER curved it past Jack Smelt and into the net. The goal was greeted with a stunned silence by the sparse home crowd, Even the announcer, situated over one hundred yards away in the far corner of the ground – what a ridiculous place to have the announcer’s box – remained silent, whilst a jubilant Michael eventually emerged from the mass of purple in the far corner of the pitch.
Margate then enjoyed their best spell of pressure, starting with a good run by Tom Bradbrook which was stopped by an Elliot Styles tackle, whilst Matt Bodkin was outstanding and was a constant threat. Bodkin sent over a corner which was cleared, and it was Bodkin who almost levelled the score with a free kick, which Joe Woolley dived full length to tip around the post, and then Frankie Curley dealt with the resulting Bodkin corner.
Hornchurch successfully weathered the home onslaught and Joe Anderson sent Lewis Smith away. Lewis raced through from the half way line and his shot went narrowly wide of the goal. Lewis Smith had another chance shortly afterwards, but hit his shot a fraction too high and the ball was last seen disappearing into the direction of Dreamland. Smith then linked up with Tuohy and Anderson, to force Laurence Ball into conceding a corner. Lewis Smith took the corner, played the ball short, and took the return pass, and his resulting shot cannoned off a defender.
Matt Bodkin was the only player troubling the visitors, and it was Bodkin who won a corner, which was followed by another corner. Bodkin floated the ball over and Tom Bradbrook must have thought he had scored, until Joe Woolley threw himself across the goal to save, and the ball was then cleared off the line by Rickie Hayles. Hornchurch retaliated in the best possible manner. And again it was Lewis Smith who set up the ball for MICHAEL SPENCER to fire home.
Margate threw everyone forward and forced three corners, but Joe Anderson and Reiss Noel kept a close check on Matt Bodkin, whilst Frankie Curley and Simon Glover mopped up in midfield. Anything that was pumped into the middle was met by a loud shout of ‘Elliot’. Tommy Black came on for Martin Tuohy and Tommy made an immediate impression, exchanging passes with Lewis Smith before the latter fired his shot narrowly wide. Black went close with a solo run which ended when he chipped the ball over the keeper but onto the rood of the net from a narrow angle, and Dave Collis came on for Lewis Smith and Collis ran on to a pass from Anderson but his shot was blocked by a defender. Hornchurch had no difficulty in playing out the remaining time, and most of the home crowd decided enough was enough as soon as three minutes stoppage time was announced and were on the way home.