HENDON 2 HORNCHURCH 0
For once the North Circular had no jams and it was an easy run to Wembley, current home of Hendon.
Reiss Noel is still out with a foot injury, and James Love came into the starting line up. Simon Glover also returned, after missing the previous match. Lewis Smith was included in the squad after his long and partially self-inflicted exile.
In bright sunshine, and with temperatures approaching heat wave levels, or so it seemed, Hornchurch started confidently, when Simon Glover slotted a good pass through to Tambeson Eyong, who ran forward and fired in a good shot which Rikki Banks, making his Hendon debut, deflected out for a corner. Fola Orilonishe took the corner but it came to nothing.
Hornchurch took the lead – or thought they had – on six minutes, when Joe Anderson’s high cross was headed powerfully home by Martin Tuohy, the goal being disallowed for offside.
A long pass by Elliot Styles out to Martin Tuohy on the wing saw Martin sweep around the full back and cross into the middle, but there was no one able to get the touch as the ball rolled across the goalmouth.
James Love then gathered a pass from Eyong inside his own half, made ground and as defenders retreated he hit a good shot goalwards and Banks saved well.
Hornchurch now applied sustained pressure, and when Rickie Hayles sent Love away, James was pulled down in full flight. Anderson took the free kick and Fola Orilonishe fired the ball back across goal, where Frankie Curley saw his shot rebound out to Fola whose return cross into the goalmouth was narrowly headed over by Leon McKenzie.
Up to now we had seen little of the home side as an attacking force, but when Styles missed his kick and allowed Greg Ngoyi to race away, it looked threatening, until an excellent tackle by Anderson stopped Ngoyi in full flight.
And it was Anderson again who kept out a Darren Currie centre after Ngoyi had slipped the bal through.
Eyong made a good run on the right but placed his pass just a fraction too far ahead of Martin Tuohy, which enabled Banks to race off his line to kick clear.
A Fola centre was headed behind by Casey MacLaren for a corner, but Fola’s corner was headed out by James Fisher.
The home side had a good opportunity when a Currie free kick was only partially cleared, and the ball came back to Currie, whose well placed shot was equally well saved by Joe Woolley.
At the other end it was Banks again who made a good save, rushing outside his area to kick away from Eyong after Love had played a long ball over the defence.
An Elliott Charles corner was comfortably cleared, but Hendon took the lead with almost the last kick of the half. Woolley had made a good saved from a Karl McCluskey header, tipping the ball over the bar, and sung the corner over. The ball was cleared only as far as MacLaren, whose looping cross into the goalmouth was finished off by ELLIOTT CHARLES, the referee signaling that the ball had crossed the line before it was cleared.
Hornchurch – playing in blue and white stripes instead of the more popular purple – kept up a steady pressure in the second half. Eyong, Orilonishe and Anderson all combined to open up the home defence, but the resulting centre went begging.
A McKenzie shot was charged down and the ball rebounded to Curley, who was tripped as he was about to shoot, Anderson’s free kick cannoned back off the wall of defenders.
Curley then sent Eyong through the middle, but his shot was too high and over the bar.
A good run by Eyong saw him turn the ball back to Love, whose centre found Fola, whose header was tipped over by Banks. Fola took the corner and Hayles headed close, but not close enough.
Lewis Smith then ended his exile when he replaced Fola, and was clearly out to prove something, with a series of lengthy cross field runs. Curley then won the ball in midfield and played it invitingly in front of McKenzie who ran forward for several yards but hit his shot wide of the post.
Hendon rarely threatened, apart from a corner by Scott Cousins, which Styles cleared. Hornchurch had a good chance to level when Love gained possession inside his own half, and his 50 yards run left defenders trailing, but his final shot went into the side netting.
A Lewis Smith solo run, across field and then cutting goalwards, ended when Banks made an excellent save, to turn the shot over the bar, and Anderson’s corner was pitched too low and was cleared by the first defender.
Woolley was called into action to hold a good cross from Michael Lewis, and Jon Hunt then replaced Tambeson, to set the scene for a lengthy spell of intense pressure. It was Hunt’s long cross field pass which allowed McKenzie to head on to Tuohy but Banks saved well.
Tommy Black came on for Curley, and almost leveled the score after Love had combined with Hunt to send Tommy away. He rounded the defender, homed in on goal, and his shot crashed against the post and was scrambled clear.
With Hornchurch coming forward in numbers, the home defence was having a torrid time, only partly eased when Cousins floated a corner over for Woolley to catch.
In stoppage time, Lewis Smith went on another of his cross field runs, and this time his pass found Leon McKenzie, whose shot was somehow kept out by Banks. And this led to the second goal, as the ball was punted deep up field, and a delighted ISAIAH RANKIN found himself clear and racing for goal, to give the home side a somewhat flattering win.
Unfortunately the North Circular Road decided to be its normal self on the way back, resulting in lengthy delays.