AFC HORNCHURCH 0 HARROW BOROUGH 0
Hornchurch dominated for long periods, but failed to press home their territorial advantage thanks primarily to an inspired display by visiting keeper Will Viner, whilst Harrow, relying heavily on defence until the final 15 minutes, suddenly decided to come forward, only to be denied by an equally fine display from Hornchurch keeper Joe Woolley.
On a bumpy pitch Hornchurch almost took the lead in the first few seconds, when a shot by Martin Tuohy was blocked and the loose ball ran out to Jon Hunt, whose first time follow up shot skimmed the bar. Hornchurch had a further chance just a minute later when Rickie Hayles played the ball through to Michael Spencer, who moved in from the left, only to be thwarted by a good tackle from Marcus Rose, and the resulting corner was played to safety by Danny Leech.
A Hunt free kick almost created a goal, when the ball fell ideally for Simon Glover, who put this shot over the bar. Following another Hunt corner Lewis Smith opened up the defence with a good run on the right and his low cross eluded everyone, despite a desperate lunge by Martin Tuohy. Harrow rarely came forward but when they won a corner on the left the ball was swerved over and fell to Leech, who put his header over the bar and onto the roof of the net.
A good opening for Smith, who ran on to a Frankie Curley pass, was stopped by a well timed tackle by Wayne Walters, and following more heavy pressure a Spencer – Hayles move ended with first Hunt and then Tuohy having goal bound shots blocked, with Walters doing well to prevent the ball entering the net. Viner made the first of several excellent saves when a Curley flick put Tuohy clear, when he turned the ball around to post for a corner, and at the other end Reiss Noel came to the rescue when RTristan Turey almost wriggled through.
Woolley made a good save from Danny Buckle, and then rose well to hold Aryantaj Tajabaksch’s corner. But the save of the half came when Lewis Smith was pulled down – surprisingly no card was waved – and Hunt’s excellent free kick was saved at full stretch by Vine. A moment of great controversy occurred almost on half time when Smith ran a darting run at goal, and was stopped by a well timed tackle, which was spoiled to a large extent by what appeared to be a blatant hand ball by the grounded Harrow defender as Lewis was first up and away. The ball ran to Spencer, who hit his shot too high, many thought that the hand ball deserved a red card and a penalty.
At half time the main conversation centred around the hand ball which was not given, whilst many others came into the shop to buy scarves for the forthcoming excursion to the North Lincolnshire tourist resort of Cleethorpes.
Harrow started strongly in the second half, forcing two corners in quick succession, but Hornchurch were denied a goal when a Lewis Smith run opened up the defence and Martin Tuohy’s first time drive was blocked on the line, and the ball cannoned high into the air and over the bar for a corner. A Tuohy-Smith move led to a further corner, and then Rickie Hayles was injured in a tackle, to be replaced by Les Thompson, who appears versatile enough to cover in almost any position. Within seconds of Thompson coming onto the pitch Hornchurch again almost took the lead, but Tuohy was denied by another magnificent save by Viner, who then rose high to grab a Hunt corner, but Viner was powerless to prevent a Hunt cross from rolling across goal, with Tuohy and Smith unable to get a foot to what would have been a certain goal.
Joe Anderson won a corner on the left but Viner again rose to gather Hunt’s corner, whilst Curley was just inches away from Smith’s cross a few seconds later. Elliot Styles sent a good ball to Smith but Lewis was crowded out by a massed defence, and Harrow began to come forward in the final fifteen minutes. Jon Jo Bates exchanged passes with Lee Wootton and Joe Woolley dived to save. Woolley repeated the performance a few minutes later, and then rose to hold a wind-swerved corner.
An incident in stoppage time brought no credit at all to the away side, who reacted en masse when Curley was penalised in the Hornchurch half for what appeared to be a slightly mistimed tackle. The referee would not be intimated into waving a red card, and instead showed a yellow card to Curley and then to Harrow captain Wayne Walters, though he could have waved the card at any number of visiting players, who incredibly had all eleven of their players apparently arguing or advising the referee on the course of action to take.