AFC HORNCHURCH 0 BILLERICAY TOWN 0
A disappointing result for Hornchurch, who struggled to make an impression on the packed visiting defence, in front of their best crowd of the season, but one which was lower than expected, thanks to the persistent rain, and possibly also due to a much smaller than expected contingent of visiting supporters.
Billericay started strongly, with a Sam Lechmere corner which was well fielded by Joe Woolley, followed by a free kick which cannoned back off the wall, after Reiss Noel collided with Courtney White, and was booked as a result.
Jay May became the second player to go into the book with a very late and mistimed tackle on Elliot Styles, which had the home crowd calling for a red in preference to the yellow. Lewis Smith tried one of his trademark runs, but lost the ball, allowing Lechmere to race away on the wing, and Rickie Hayles headed the resulting centre to safety.
A terribly misdirected back pass by Rob Swaine led to the first Hornchurch corner of the match, but Swaine made amends by heading Jon Hunt’s corner away from any danger.
At the other end Elliot Styles headed away from a Glen Poole corner, whilst a rapid run by Reiss Noel along the right wing ended with a hard shot which crashed into the side netting.
Dale Brightly made a good save when Hunt’s free kick was headed powerfully towards goal by Hayles, and a Simon Glover – Jon Hunt – Martin Tuohy – Lewis Smith move ended in a free kick, which Hunt fired hard but into the wall of defenders.
Swaine, who had earlier escaped with two free kicks conceded in quick succession, at last went into the referee’s book when he brought down Lewis Smith, but Hunt’s free kick was far to high and no one could get on to the end of it.
Martin Tuohy became the next to fall victim to Billericay’s stop-them-at-all-costs tackling, and once again Hunt’s free kick came to nothing.
Frankie Curley had been outstanding in midfield but close to half time conceded a free kick, and although the ball ended up in the net, the whistle had gone long before for a foul.
Billericay started the second half strongly, when Nathan Green made a good run before setting up Jay May, who however hit his shot closer to the windmill than to the goal.
Hornchurch got little change from the visiting defence, though Greg Oates was fortunate to escape a card when he brought down Tuohy, who had been put through by Smith. Hunt’s free kick was headed away by Swaine, who, just a minute later, repeated the performance from a Hunt free kick after Oates had brought down Fola Orilonishe.
And when Lewis Smith was sent crashing down by Swaine, most expected a second yellow, followed by a red, but instead it was just a free kick again, and once again it was Swaine who headed away from the third Hunt free kick in as many minutes.
Joe Anderson opened up the defence with a good pass to Smith, but the ball was deflected out for a corner, which came to nothing, and Carl Rook came on for Hunt, with Curley moving across in midfield.
Billericay briefly came back when Styles miskicked to give away a throw, which Junior Luke hurled into the goalmouth for Woolley to field.
A dreadful pass in midfield allowed Courtney White to go streaking away towards goal, but he miskicked and the ball sailed harmlessly towards the corner flag.
Tuohy then sent Anderson away, after Joe had tracked the ball out to the right wing, and a corner resulted. Smith played the corner to Glover, took the return pass, and homed in on goal but was crowded out for a second corner, which Orilonishe took, and which was headed away by Swaine.
Lewis Smith was again brought down, this time by Luke, and it was Lewis who stepped up to take the free kick, the ball being partially saved by Brightly, before being hacked off the line to safety.
With Hornchurch forced to come forward, Michael Spencer replaced Orilonishe and Len McKenzie came on for Tuohy, but it was Billericay who came close to scoring when a Dave Collis free kick from inside his own half was headed on and Joe Anderson had to head off the line to give away a corner, after Woolley had palmed the original header away. And it was Anderson again who seconds later again headed off the line as the ball swerved over from the corner. Billericay won two more corners as the match went into stoppage time, and they again had the ball in the net, though the whistle had gone already for a foul on Woolley.
And so the match ended goalless, and Billericay must be more than satisfied with the result.