AFC HORNCHURCH 3 LOWESTOFT TOWN 0
Reiss Noel was out with injury, and this necessitated Michael Spencer switching to right back, Rickie Hayles to centre half, and Tommy Black coming in at outside left. Lowestoft won the toss and forced Hornchurch to kick towards the restaurant end in the first half, which meant that Hornchurch had the strong setting sun in their faces, plus a strong downfield wind. It was the visitors who settled down quickly, and they almost took the lead when they won a corner in the second minute. Lubomir Guentchev sent the ball over, curling it into the goalmouth, and it took a combined effort from Elliot Styles and Rickie Hayles to keep the ball from crossing the line.
Lowestoft continued to impress and always looked dangerous when coming forward, though Hornchurch opened up their defence when Simon Glover played a good pass out to Joe Anderson, whose first time cross reached Martin Tuohy, whose header skimmed the crossbar. The best chance however fell to Lewis Smith, who had run on to a square ball from Frankie Curley. Lewis carried on with a clear run at goal, and had just Andrew Reynolds to beat, but his shot was well saved by Reynolds when a goal seemed certain.
And Lowestoft almost immediately moved onto the attack when Michael Frew charged the ball down in midfield, pounded forward, and Joe Woolley had to race off his line to dive at the forward’s feet to save. With Lowestoft still appearing in command, it was Hornchurch who went ahead. Lewis Smith took a pass from Frankie Curley and raced into the area, where he was forced wide by Greg Crane and Sam Gaughan, but Lewis turned quickly inside and was brought down by Gaughan, and the referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty, whilst Gaughan was shown a yellow card. MARTIN TUOHY stepped up to fire the ball low into the net, and in the ensuing celebrations, Terry Fisher was ordered from the touchline by the referee.
The goal changed the pattern of the match and Hornchurch began to assert their control in midfield. Smith touched a pass back to Joe Anderson whose dipping centre was almost headed into his own net by Adam Smith, and from the resulting corner Jon Hunt found Hayles, who played the ball out to the left to Smith whose low cross went begging in front of the goal. Another Hunt corner was cleared, before Lowestoft themselves went close, when a long range wind assisted lob from Crane landed on the roof of the net. Guentchev curled another corner into the goalmouth where Styles cleared, and Hornchurch again went close when Tommy Black made ground on the right, and exchanged passes with Curley before the ball was laid into the middle, and Smith fired wide of the goal.
A Black cross appeared to be handled by a defender, before the visitors stormed forward. A long ball to Frew created confusion in the home defence before Styles and Michael Spencer managed to scramble the ball away to safety, and a dangerously curling corner by Guentchev was well held by Woolley under the bar..
But the pressure was stemmed and Hornchurch went further ahead when Styles played a pass out to Anderson, who set off on a lengthy run along the left wing. Anderson then pulled the ball back across goal and LEWIS SMITH made no mistake.
Hornchurch were now in total command, and a Hunt corner was headed back by Smith to Tuohy, who hammed the ball into the net but was given offside. Joe Francis and Matt Nolan came on for Lowestoft and it was a well flighted Francis corner which was headed out by Jon Hunt for a further corner. Francis again sent the ball over, and Frew’s shot was well saved by Woolley.
Les Thompson came on for Tommy Black and right away made his presence felt, when he ran on to a Spencer pass, sped through the defence, and forced Reynolds to race out of his area to kick clear. At the other end a well flighted free kick led to a corner which Francis took, and it was Tuohy, back helping in defence, who headed clear.
A Hunt corner was cleared, but the third goal soon followed, when JOE ANDERSON ran along the left side, cut inside and hammered home a hard shot to mark his first goal for Hornchurch. In the ensuing celebrations, both Hayles and Tuohy were booked, one for apparently kicking the ball away and the other for understandably protesting the seemingly illogical decision.
Aaron Gayle came on for Martin Tuohy, and Hornchurch comfortably played out the remaining time. The closest Lowestoft came was a Francis corner which Woolley fielded, and in the last few seconds of stoppage time when a centre created confusion in the defence and the ball eventually bounced high into the air and dropped over the bar.The Player of the Match was sponsored by Jordan Newman, who selected Elliot Styles for the award.