THURROCK 0 AFC HORNCHURCH 0
(HORNCHURCH WIN 4-3 ON PENALTIES)
Reiss Noel, Martin Tuohy, Frankie Curley, Elliot Styles, Lewis Smith and Rickie Hayles were all injured at Concord, though Rickie was able to take his place in the starting line up. The injury list soon became even longer when Dave McSweeney and Michael Spencer received injuries in the first half in the space of a minute. Billy Pearce and Sam Bantick came into the squad from the youth team, whilst Michael Bowditch was also named as substitute, but Lewis Smith was declared fit and came into the squad.
The drizzle had stopped by kick off time, and despite the impression that the match was scheduled for the Tuesday, over one hundred Hornchurch supporters turned up for the match. Let’s hope that the other hundred do not turn up tomorrow expecting the match to be played on the Tuesday, as per the rules of the competition.
A most unusual Hornchurch line up started confidently, and Joe Anderson, playing at outside left, combined with Michael Spencer and Tommy Black to open up the home defence, and only a fine interception by home keeper David Hughes prevented the cross from reaching Aaron Gayle. Black took a pass from Andy Tomlinson and this time his perfect centre found Gayle, whose header beat the keeper but cannoned off the bar and out of play.
Stuart Thurgood, signed from East Thurrock in controversial circumstance, embarked on a left wing run but was tackled firmly by Dave McSweeney, to concede a corner, which was headed away by Hunt. Hunt was quickly in action again with a long pass out to Tambeson Eyong on the right. Tambeson raced goalwards and keeper Hughes had to race out of goal to kick clear. Two corners followed in quick succession, both taken by Jon Hunt, the second of which found Ronnie Fletcher, whose header hit the bar and was scrambled out. Black then exchanged passes with Andy Tomlinson to place the ball through the defence. Eyong raced through, and once again it was Hughes to the rescue, rushing out to kick clear.
Thurrock wasted a corner, and then there was a long stoppage whilst Michael Spencer received attention. Whilst he was off the pitch, Rikki Burbridge was booked for a challenge on Dave McSweeney, who remained prone on the ground. Les Thompson came on as substitute, and went to full back. Michael Spencer came back on, but a minute later went down under a challenge from Drewe Broughton, who was booked. After lengthy attention, Michael also had to go off and was eventually replaced by Simon Glover. Anderson reverted to left back, and an inspired and animated Glover took over in midfield.
With Hornchurch trying to adjust, Stuart Thurgood ran through on the left and fired his shot across goal. Almost on half time a Black shot was blocked by James White.
Hornchurch, with an ever growing injury list, came out for the second half, and a long Joe Woolley kick almost allowed Aaron Gayle to break through, only for Hughes to yet again rush out of goal to clear. Andy Tomlinson was the next to need attention, but he was able to resume. From the resulting free kick Hunt sent the ball narrowly wide, and a minute later another Hunt free kick was well saved by Hughes. At the other end Glenn Poole hit a free kick wide. Then followed an excellent interception by Les Thompson, who improves each match as he regains his fitness after a five month spell on the injury list, and Les played the ball up to Aaron Gayle, whose goal bound run was halted by a well timed James White tackle.
Thurrock wasted two corners, one headed away by Fletcher and the other by Hayles, and then came the best move of the match when Anderson, Hunt and Thompson all worked the ball up field to send Eyong away. Tambeson raced in from the wing and hammed the ball at goal, where it hit a defender and was eventually scrambled off the line. Joe Woolley had his only direct shot to save after Alex Osborn ran on to a long kick by Hughes.
Hornchurch finished powerfully and threatened to overwhelm the home side in the final few minutes. Glover played a pass out to Eyong, who again raced in from the right but his shot went across the face of the goal with no one being able to get a touch. In the final minute Joe Anderson sped in from the opposite wing, and his shot cannoned off a defender on the line. Lewis Smith came on for Aaron Gayle and seconds later the final whistle went.
Not much happened in extra time, due to the fact that they was no extra time and it went straight to penalties. So – they have stopped having replays – they have stopped having extra time – if they cannot be bothered with replays or extra time, why both with the competition at all?
And so on it was straight to penalties, taken at the M25 end of the ground.
Hornchurch went first – up stepped Jon Hunt and his right footed shot went straight at Hughes. Reece Harris opened for Thurrock and Woolley made an excellent save. So nil nil.
Joe Anderson went next, and firmly hammered the ball home.
Stuart Thurgood levelled with a well struck kick. One one.
Tommy Black’s kick was saved by Hughes and Ben Bowditch had a similar fate, when Woolley saved. Still one one.
Andy Tomlinson, with the support of one hundred Urchins behind the goal, crashed the ball home, and Glenn Poole replied in similar fashion, with a small cheer going up from the handful of home supporters. Two two.
The fifth penalty was taken by Lewis Smith, which was his first touch of the ball, but he hit his shot too high and it cannoned off the bar. Drewe Broughton stepped up to win the match for Thurrock, but Woolley saved, to the delight of the away following. Still two two.
Ronnie Fletcher took penalty number six and there was never any doubt where the ball was going – into the net. James White’s penalty was equally well taken. Three three.
Simon Glover confidently crashed home penalty number seven – four three.
Alex Osborn had to score to keep Thurrock in the competition. Joe Woolley saved. Four three and all over.