FARNBOROUGH 2 AFC HORNCHURCH 3
Team news – Lewis Smith will miss one match following his red card on Saturday. Andy Tomlinson’s appeal against his red card at Colchester was rejected and he will be suspended for three matches.
Farnborough’s ground has undergone a marked transformation since Hornchurch were last there, and is now one of the best in the Conference. They now have a large stand behind the goal – though still without a roof, just the girders in place at the moment - and excellent facilities – but you have to walk right around the ground to get to the only refreshment bar that was open, in the far corner of the pitch – and a large car park. The lady on car park duty asked for £3 for the privilege of parking - but as this included a free programme, it was not too bad a deal after all - until we opened the programme and found it had very little in the way of content. The pitch was immaculate and a credit to the club. Floodlights were of a high standard, and the entire ground has a neat and tidy look about it. If only all grounds were like this. The supporters shop had no badges, and we were told that they have not had any for over two seasons now.
On a magnificent pitch, Hornchurch started powerfully and could have opened the scoring in the first minute when a Lewis Smith cross from the left reached Martin Tuohy, and his shot was scrambled to safety by Doug Bergqvist. Hornchurch appeared to be completely fired up and Lewis Smith went close shortly afterwards with a hard shot which went wide of the post. Frankie Curley joined in the attack, sending Martin Tuohy away, and Nathan Webb tackled to concede a corner. Jon Hunt floated the ball over, but a fraction too low and it was headed away.
With Hornchurch pressing forward, Simon Glover won the ball in midfield and sent Smith away. Lewis homed in on goal but keeper Tom Lovelock was quick to rush out of his area to kick clear. Joe Woolley then got his first touch of the ball and immediately pumped it deep up field. Martin Tuohy raced clear and appeared certain to score, only to be brought down by Doug Bergqvist, whose reward was a straight red from Hornchurch’s favourite referee, Mr Breakspear – remember him at Ashford?
MARTIN TUOHY stepped up for the penalty, time froze, one hundred Hornchurch supporters froze, and then the ground erupted – the ball was in the net.
With Hornchurch storming forward, Tuohy found Smith, whose shot was saved at the second attempt by Lovelock, who then rose well to punch away Hunt’s free kick, after Nathan Webb was shown a yellow card. Marcus Moody then joined the yellow card brigade, and from the free kick, taken by Hunt – who else? – Martin Tuohy headed against the bar, and Lovelock grabbed the ball as it bounced loose.
But it was not all one way traffic – Farnborough had three times almost broken through, but on each occasion the resulting shot had sailed high over the bar, and one had even gone through the roof that was not yet there, and out of the ground. But the home side levelled when PHILLIP APPIAH hammered home an excellent shot from the edge of the area. and when Moody sent over a curving free kick, it was Rickie Hayles who was ideally placed to clear. Elliot Styles and Reiss Noel both got in telling tackles to stem the increasing flow of Farnborough attacks, before play swung back to the other end, and Andy Tomlinson made a good run to come in from the left side, and Webb got in a timely tackle to thwart what could easily have otherwise been a goal. Glover then touched the ball back to Joe Anderson, whose run and cross reached Tuohy, but Martin’s shot was too high and the ball went over the bar.
Farnborough took the lead on 45 minutes when a long ball found REECE CONNELLY who moved forward rapidly and ran the ball around Joe Woolley, but Connelly was forced out almost to the goal line, yet still managed to guide the ball home from a very narrow angle.
In stoppage time Glover crossed to Hunt, whose shot was saved well by Lovelock, and in the last few seconds of the half Adam Bygrave headed over from a corner.
Farnborough had looked dangerous in the first half, but the second half belonged to Hornchurch, who swarmed all over the home goal, and who could have won comfortably had not the ball seemed almost determined to keep out of the net. Reiss Noel started the onslaught with a long pass to Smith, thence to Hunt via Rickie Hayles, and Hunt’s cross went across the goal and no one was able to get the final touch. Jon Hunt was now completely in control, seemingly of the entire pitch. And it was Hunt who sent an excellent pass to Frankie Curley, who moved in on goal, but chose to play the ball towards Tuohy instead of shooting, and the ball was scrambled away.
Curley was again in action when Joe Anderson put him through, and Frankie sent the ball invitingly across goal, but no one could touch it over the line. But Farnborough were by now struggling in the face of a Hunt inspired Hornchurch, and it was Hunt to created the equaliser, with a run on the left followed by a low cross for MARTIN TUOHY to place firmly into the net, to spark off bedlam behind the goal. The Purple People Eaters were level, and nothing was going to stop them.
Hunt again, this time to Anderson, whose shot somehow remained out of the net, and Hunt then almost found the net from Curley’s pass, but Lovelock saved well at the expense of a corner. Lovelock then rose well to punch the ball away as it curved over. Hunt yet again, and once again it was Curley homing in, and Frankie’s cross was scrambled off the line, with the away following all thinking it was going to end up in the net.
With Farnborough now in total disarray, a quick free kick by who else but Hunt allowed Anderson to speed in, and the ball was hammered into the net – only for the linesman to raise his flag and signal offside. Back came Hornchurch and it was a Curley – Anderson combination which set up Lewis Smith whose shot was just inches wide of the goal.
Jon Hunt limped off with a knee injury and was replaced by Tommy Black, to the obvious relief of the home side, who managed a telling attack of their own, which ended in a free kick and a booking for Elliot Styles. The kick was floated too close to Joe Woolley, who promptly played the ball long up field, where LEWIS SMITH was first to react, and Lewis raced goalwards. Lovelock came out of his area, but Lewis lobbed the ball over the keeper, who managed to get a hand to the ball, but he could not prevent it bouncing into the net after what seemed like an eternity, with the massed away following already celebrating long before the ball had crossed the line. Lovelock was perhaps fortunate to escape a yellow card for handling the ball outside the area – he had already been booked for dissent following Martin Tuohy’s equaliser.
Tommy Black sent a good pass through to Lewis Smith whose shot forced Lovelock into an excellent save, and Black’s corner was punched out by the overworked Lovelock. Michael Spencer came on for Lewis Smith, and Spencer quickly got involved with a good pass across to Anderson, who was tackled by Webb. But a minute later it was Joe Woolley in action, running out to the edge of his area, close to the touchline, to gather. And pandemonium broke out, because the linesman signalled that Woolley had carried the ball outside the area. up strode the referee, Mr Breakspear, and somehow managed to miss a home player who pushed a Hornchurch player over in the interim. A long pause, and out came the card – it was yellow, and a correct decision, as the handling was unintentional and there was never a goal scoring opportunity. The free kick was fired in hard and Woolley saved.
Tambeson Eyong came on for Tuohy, and there were four minutes of stoppage time, during which Tambeson tried successfully to lock the ball up in the corner, and then Tambeson won a corner which Tommy Black took, and a few more seconds were gained as the ball was again held in the corner of the pitch. Farnborough came back with one final attack and a free kick was awarded about 40 yards out, but the shot cannoned back off the wall of defenders, and Mr Breakspear signalled it was all over.