AFC HORNCHURCH 0 HENDON 1
Hendon came determined to defend, and Hornchurch were unable to find a way through the visitors, who simply pulled players back in numbers. Neither side offered much in the way of shots on target in the first half. Joe Woolley caught a long and somewhat hopeful free kick, whilst Jon Hunt directed a similarly positioned free kick at the other end too low and the ball was easily cleared.
When Martin Tuohy challenged Scott Cousins in midfield, another free kick was conceded, and this time it was Joe Anderson who headed the ball away. Hendon almost took a surprise lead when a Darren Currie cross was headed against the bar by Isiah Rankin, and the closest Hornchurch came was when a long throw from Rickie Hayles was fumbled and eventually grabbed by Berkeley Laurencin.
With neither side looking like getting in a shot on target it was something of a surprise when a hopeful attempt by ELLIOTT GODFREY ended up in the net for what was the only goal of the match.
Hornchurch dominated the remainder of the half, but did not look like penetrating the massed defence of the visitors, with Frank Sinclair and Ryan Wharton seemingly unbeatable and dealing with everything that came their way, usually from a great height. Simon Glover shot wide from a Joe Woolley pass, and a Hunt corner was scrambled clear, but the best opportunity came when Tuohy was fouled and Hornchurch had a free kick some forty yards out. Hunt lurked, but it was Andy Tomlinson who sent the ball across and keeper Laurencin could only tip the ball away, but it was enough to divert it behind for a corner. Lewis Smith set off on one of his trademark weaving runs when he took a pass from Hayles, but was crowded out by the massed green wall of defenders, and the only other opportunity came when Frankie Curley started a move which went from Tuohy to Hunt before the usually accurate Hunt hit his shot well wide of the target.
Hendon were by now fully committed to defence, but had one sortie up field when they won a free kick which was taken by Elliott Godfrey. Hunt headed away but Rankin was quick to head the ball back towards goal, forcing Woolley into his only save of the half.
Hornchurch were a lot more convincing in the second half, and almost levelled within seconds of the restart, when Lewis Smith ran through, only for Laurencin to save well. Tuohy shot wide from an Anderson pass, and in a rare Hendon attack, Ronnie Fletcher conceded a free kick, which was taken by Darren Currie and which cannoned off Reiss Noel, who was in the middle of the wall. Laurencin punched clear from a Hunt free kick, and a minute later was again in action, this time catching the ball as Hunt sent another free kick into the goalmouth.
Hornchurch almost scored soon after when Tomlinson combined with Lewis Smith, and the resulting cross found Frankie Curley, but the ball hit the cross bar and was scrambled clear. Hendon survived a penalty appeal when a defender appeared to handle, and Michael Spencer came on for Andy Tomlinson. Joe Anderson hit a shot wide from another Hunt free kick, and Hendon almost increased their lead when they broke out of defence and Woolley tipped a hard shot over the bar, and then proceeded to drop the corner – hardly surprising as Hendon had five players all surrounding the keeper on the line – many referees would have immediately blown for a free kick for blatant obstruction.
Les Thompson replaced Jon Hunt and Aaron Gayle came on to replaced Rickie Hayles, but it was Hendon who again broke away, and won the first of three successive corners, when once again they had five players surrounding the keeper. It seemed as if bookings were abolished, but this all changed when a Hendon player booted the ball away some fifty yards when a free kick was awarded, and out came the yellow card at last – not for the Hendon player, who was seemingly immune from any form of caution, but for Martin Tuohy, who simply wanted to get on with the game.
Hendon had a further corner which came to nothing, and Hornchurch almost levelled in stoppage time when Lewis Smith touched through to Michael Spencer whose shot cannoned back off the post to Frankie Curley, whose follow up went narrowly wide. Despite the continuous and deliberate time wasting by the visitors, just three minutes was added on for stoppages, all for substitutions, and Hendon, perhaps deservedly, took the three points.