AFC HORNCHURCH 0 BURY TOWN 1
Bury turned up in an all red strip, which forced Hornchurch to wear their purple away strip. Injuries meant that the squad selected itself, as Jon Hunt, Dave McSweeney and Aaron Gayle are still missing. Jon has now had his plaster removed and Dave and Aaron are now close to coming back into the squad. Ronnie Fletcher has been released – Ronnie joined Hornchurch in 2006 and made a total of 99 appearances, scoring one goal.
When Lewis Smith put a shot wide in the first minute, and when keeper Marcus Garnham grabbed a Frankie Curley header from a long Rickie Hayles throw just a minute later, it already was beginning to look as if it was going to be one of those nights, when Hornchurch would have most of the play but not get any reward for their efforts.
And so it proved – for the visitors managed just one shot on goal, and they scored from this one attempt, when DANIEL CUNNINGHAM found himself in acres of space right in front of goal when to place the ball into the net when it came over long and high from the right wing.
Prior to this Michael Spencer had hit a weak free kick straight at Garnham, and a Lewis Smith run had ended with an excellent Garnham save, when the keeper turned the ball out for a corner, and then rose high to grab the ball when Spencer floated it over, despite close attention from Curley and Elliot Styles.. Reiss Noel put a good pass out to Martin Tuohy but his centre was placed too close to the keeper and a Curley cross which found Tuohy met a similar fate when Garnham blocked the resulting shot.
And then came the only goal of the game, totally unexpected as until then Bury had scarcely crossed the half way line. The scorer, Daniel Cunningham, shortly afterwards needed attention for an injury and was replaced by Lee Reed. Bury were bombarded by a series of long Hayles throws, but their these did not trouble their defence, apart from one massive scramble which ended when Garnham made an excellent save to keep out Spencer’s goal bound shot.
And seconds later it appeared that Hornchurch had scored when Lewis Smith made ground and crossed to Martin Tuohy, whose header looked a certain goal – but ball cannoned back off the far post and was scrambled out. Lewis Smith again, this time finding Curley, and Frankie’s header was saved by the very much in from Garnham. Bury briefly eased the pressure when they moved upfield and forced a corner, but Reiss Noel headed comfortably away. A free kick, taken by the almost redundant Joe Woolley, found Curley, whose header was close but not close enough. And shortly before half time Spencer’s run ended with a fine cross which Curley headed narrowly wide.
The second half was even more one sided, as Bury survived a near continuous onslaught, and when Lewis Smith was brought down in full flight Dave Collis hit the free kick hard against the wall, with Russell Short clearing. A Martin Tuohy cross then cannoned wildly off a defender and the ball looped almost in slow motion over the keeper and landed on the roof of the net. Spencer took the corner and Hayles flicked the ball goalwards, where Garnham saved yet again. Tambeson Eyong had found it difficult to find his way through on the right and Tommy Black came on, and seconds later Collis and Spencer exchanged passes and Michael played the ball back to Lewis Smith, who weaved through and hit in an unstoppable shot – or it would have been unstoppable had not Marcus Garnham flung himself to the left to touch the ball against the post, and it rebounded across goal and was eventually scooped to safety.
Bury then used their most dangerous forward – right back Russell Short – who made some penetrating runs on the right. His first run was stopped by a Joe Anderson tackle and his next two solo sorties ended in corners, both of which were cleared with ease. At the other end Tommy Black went close, but his shot was deflected out for a corner, which Collis flighted too low, and a perfectly placed Anderson centre found Collis whose powerful header was blocked by a mass of defenders. Joe Woolley was allowed another touch of the ball when he fielded a long clearance and from his long kick Lewis Smith touched back to Tommy Black whose shot was touched out for a corner. Collis sent the ball over and Garnham, with Styles lurking, held the high curling centre.
Sam Nunn headed away from Lewis Smith after Anderson had crossed from the left, and another Anderson cross ended in a corner, which in turn was headed out for a futher corner. Les Thompson came on for Martin Tuohy, and Hornchurch sent another corner over, and this time Tommy Black was fouled on the edge of the area. the entire visiting team lined up to form a massive red wall, and it was Anderson who fired in the free kick, which rebounded to Collis, whose follow up shot went out for a corner. Collis took the corner, and this was scrambled clear.
The referee had signalled only five minutes of stoppage time, though the visitors had long before been blatantly time wasting, but Hornchurch could not find a way through.