AFC HORNCHURCH 2 Concord Rangers 0
Concord started well, and looked very confident, and ‘up for it’. In the first minute Harry Elmes almost broke through on the left, and a good tackle by Reiss Noel conceded a corner to alleviate the danger. Tony Stokes swung the ball over, and Steve King’s header was touched onto the crossbar by Joe Woolley, and Rickie Hayles headed the follow up off the line, with Elliot Styles completing the clearance.
Hornchurch came back strongly and a Reiss Noel free kick was well saved by Nicky Eyre as Fola Orilonishe homed in at speed.
Play settled down in midfield and the closest anyone came to scoring was when Harry Elmes hit a shot over the bar – about ten feet too high.
Hornchurch played some excellent football in midfield, but play was frequently stopped for free kicks, with visiting players quick to fall to the floor under the slightest of challenges.
Hornchurch took a thoroughly deserved lead when Jon Hunt started the move which culminated when Leon McKenzie jumped high to head on, and MARTIN TUOHY came in at speed to neatly chip the ball over the advancing Eyre and into the net.
It could easily have been two when Fola took a pass from Andy Tomlinson and sped down the left wing, where he was brought down by a badly mistimed tackle from Ashley Miller who escaped with a yellow card. Jon Hunt took the free kick, and Eyre saved in style under the bar.
In defence Elliot Styles was supreme, but this all changed in highly controversial fashion on 33 minutes, when Nicky Cowley fell dramatically, and the referee waved a red card immediately at Elliot, who did not appear to have touched the fallen Cowley, who was quickly to his feet.
The knowledgeable East Side were frequently incensed by what they considered to be play acting, as visiting players went down leading to a succession of free kicks.
Play degenerated into a series of free kicks, the loudest cheers coming when the referee awarded any in Hornchurch’s favour, but Jon Hunt and Frankie Curley began to control the midfield and Concord were unable to take advantage of their numerical superiority. The closest they came was when Joe Anderson headed a Tony Stokes corner over his own bar, and then headed the second corner to safety.
For most the question at half time was –‘Could Hornchurch hold out?’
The answer was not long in coming – just two minutes into the second half Jon Hunt’s free kick from inside his own half allowed McKenzie play the ball on FOLA ORILONISHE whose first time rocket shot screamed it way into the net. Fola turned a double somersault to celebrate.
Concord were finished.
Michael Spencer came on for Jon Hunt, and took up the left back position, seemingly leaving Hornchurch vulnerable in midfield, whilst in defence Rickie Hayles, Joe Anderson and Reiss Noel were in top form.
Leon McKenzie could have made it three when he went streaking clear onto Curley’s pass, but was controversially called back for offside.
Concord were in such a state of confusion that they decided to put Reece Harris on as substitute – there was a minor problem here, as Harris was not named on the official team sheet and he was promptly sent packing.
McKenzie was again put clear and again pulled back for offside.Leon McKenzie then placed an excellent pass out to Fola on the right wing, and from his cross, Frankie Curley headed over.
James Elmes sent a shot wide but the closest Concord came to scoring was when keeper Nicky Eyre came up to take a free kick, and forced Joe Woolley into making an excellent save in what was Concord’s only shot on target in the second half.
Tambeson Eyong came on for Fola, who left the field to loud applause. It was then Woolley’s turn to set up an attack when his long kick up field found McKenzie whose first time shot was well saved by Eyre.
McKenzie took a pass from Anderson but Miller tackled to concede a corner. Spencer sent the ball over and Tuohy’s header skimmed the bar.
It was now time to hold on to what we had – Simon Glover came on for Martin Tuohy, Tam dropped into defence and Concord had a chance to pull a goal back when the ball came back off a post to Harry Elmes, who contrived to put it well wide of an open goal.
Concord won three corners during stoppage time, whilst Hornchurch promptly went down to the other end to win a corner of their own.
But by now Concord had nothing at all to offer and Hornchurch ran out deserved winners. Concord are a very good side, but they win no admirers with what sometimes appears to be deliberate attempts to get players yellow or red cards.