WEALDSTONE 2 HORNCHURCH 1
A bumpy and sloping pitch, a hostile crowd, and a strong downfield wind greeted Hornchurch, who made two changes to the starting line up – Michael Spencer came in for Fola Orilonishe, whilst Tambeson Eyong came in for Simon Glover.
Hornchurch made an uncertain start, facing the strong wind and playing uphill. But it was hesitancy by Joe Woolley which nearly led to a goal in the first few seconds, when he dallied so long to kick the ball up field that Scott Fitzgerald was allowed to rapidly narrow the gap, and the ball cannoned back off Fitzgerald and almost into the net.
Richard Jolly briefly came into the picture when he ran on to a long ball out of defence, and Reiss Noel had to rush back to tackle, and from the resulting throw in, Lee Chappell hurled the ball into the goalmouth where Elliot Styles conceded a corner. This was taken by Tom Pett and a motionless defence watched as Chris O’Leary planted his free header wide of the goal.
Another defensive error allowed Jolly to run past two defenders, and Woolley had to make two saves in quick succession, turning the ball out for a corner.
At last Hornchurch began to find some sort of rhythm, and when Tambeson Eyong took a pass from Frankie Curley he quickly fed the ball through to Lewis Smith, who equally as quickly was sent crashing to the ground. Loud appeals for a penalty were ignored.
A similar move a minute later again saw Eyong play through to Smith, who this time set off on one of his lengthy runs out onto the right wing, before his cross was headed to safety by Wes Parker.
A Joe Anderson cross went out for a corner and Jon Hunt took a quick return pass from Lewis Smith but sent his cross cum shot wide of the far post.
Anderson then conceded a corner at the other end and Pett, aided by the strong wind, swerved the ball goalwards, where Rickie Hayles hooked the ball away, the referee ignoring the loud appeals by the home supporters that the ball had crossed the line, which, for this to have been the case, would have meant that the goal line was three yards out into the field of play.
A badly mistimed Curley pass almost allowed Chappell to run clear, but quick thinking by Noel averted any danger, but a minute later Tambeson Eyong completely misjudged a pass and sent the ball straight to Fitzgerald, who raced goalwards and was tackled by Noel, to win a corner. Pett again swerved the ball over, and the defence watched as the ball, almost in slow motion, drifted into the net via SCOTT FITZGERALD.
Hornchurch replied straight away, when Eyong weaved a path through the defence to set up Anderson, whose shot went over the bar.
O’Leary again headed over from a Pett corner as the visiting defence struggled and seemed unable to realise that there were players on the field other than Richard Jolly.
And then came the first incident which may well have turned the match in Wealdstone’s favour. Tambeson Eyong was racing goalwards when he was scythed down by Wes Parker. Up strode the referee, and after a long period of deliberation, the offending player got away with a weakly waved yellow. The free kick was just outside the area, and Lewis Smith lurked close to the ball, but it was Jon Hunt who stepped up to fire the ball left footed and over the wall – only for the ball to rebound off the post.
Martin Tuohy won possession and gave Lewis Smith an opening, but his goal bound shot was blocked, and then things got markedly worse, when a badly mistimed kick by Joe Woolley, who had plenty of time to clear comfortably, went straight to TOM PETT, who quickly turned, and ran forward to glide the ball into the net.
Hornchurch won another corner, and Eyong put a shot wide, in the remaining few minutes of the half.
The second half started in highly controversial fashion when Curley played a long ball to Eyong, and a defender just managed to get in a tackle and played the ball back to Ashlee Jones, who picked the ball up as Eyong raced towards it. The one hundred Hornchurch supporters behind the goal immediately appealed for the indirect free kick, but the referee took no action, to the unbridled joy of the hostile home crowd.
W Wealdstone corner was cleared and suddenly Hornchurch stepped up a few gears and the home defence found itself under continuous and heavy pressure.
Hunt set Anderson up but he fired the ball over the bar, and Leon McKenzie came on for Curley, with Tambeson dropping into midfield and Hunt moving more out to the wing. McKenzie was quickly involved, sending a good pass out to Lewis Smith, and Jones made a good save. But the home defence wilted in the face of the strong Urchins pressure, and when Tambeson Eyong took a pass from Hunt, he raced through the middle, and his shot was partially blocked, and LEWIS SMITH followed up to force the ball home.
McKenzie to Tuohy and on to Eyong, whose shot deflected for a corner. Hunt sent the ball across to Lewis Smith whose shot was well saved by Jones.
Then came the next highly controversial incident. Lewis Smith went crashing down inside the area, but all that happened was that Jon Hunt was booked for protesting.
Carl Rook came on for Styles, and the home goal was bombarded from all angles. The closest Hornchurch came was when Michael Spencer’s corner was only half cleared as far as Jon Hunt, whose shot from the edge of the area hit the bar and was scrambled away.
Wealdstone briefly broke out of defence, and the ball was sent high over the bar from a somewhat optimistic shot from outside the area, and then a series of long throws from Rickie Hayles created chaos in the Wealdstone goalmouth. In the final minutes of stoppage time Hornchurch won two corners, both of which Hunt swerved alarmingly close to the goal, but the ball would not cross the line for the all important point.