On an afternoon when both goalkeepers were in top form, the match was settled with a goal from Brad Warner ten minutes from the end of normal time, after manager Jim McFarlane had made an inspired substitution three minutes earlier.
HORNCHURCH 1 BOWERS & PITSEA 0
HFC – Mott, Bentley © (Hursit 26), Porter, Lee, Cooper, Roberts, Fairweather-Johnson, Chouman, Wall (Styles 90+1), Warner, Fanimo (Purcell 77)
Subs – McKenzie, Tuohy
BP – Chafer, Clark, Nyanga, Martyn Stokes ©, Dicks, Sartain, Ashman (Leahy HT), Salmon, Knight, Cockman, Tony Stokes (Manor 61)
Subs – Yuill, Robins
Officials – Stephen Bates with Andrew Tregoring and Alex Kyriacou
Scorer – Warner 80
Bookings – Clark 4 (BP) – Warner 41 (H) – Leahy 81 (BP) – Wall 83 (H)
Duration 48.00 + 50.00
HORNCHURCH 1 BOWERS & PITSEA 0
Bowers, in third position in the league table, and equal on points with Hornchurch, albeit having played three matches more, started off strongly, a little too strongly, as Lewis Clark went into the referee’s book after only four minutes for a heavy challenge on Matthias Fanimo.
And when captain Martyn Stokes made a similar tackle on Brad Warner shortly afterwards, he was somewhat fortunate to escape a card.
Play settled down and when Jamie Dicks sent the ball deep into the goalmouth, Nathan Cooper turned it out for a corner, which led to a second corner before the danger was cleared.
Bowers looked more confident and when Clark played the ball in from the right, David Knight missed a chance to put his side a goal to the good, pulling his shot wide of the post.
On 26 minutes Alex Bentley pulled up sharply and limped off, to be replaced by Jamie Hursit.
On the half hour, Bowers almost took the lead when Tony Stokes ran in from the right and fired in a hard shot that cannoned back off the post.
The remainder of the half was played out largely in midfield, with just two scoring opportunities, both to Hornchurch, the first a long range shot from Nathan Cooper that was too high, and the second a similar attempt by Sean Roberts that met the same fate.
Three minutes into the second half, Sam Mott made an excellent save from a powerful Knight shot, but was fortunate when the ball ran loose and the follow up shot was sent high over the bar.
Callum Chafer was called upon to make a brilliant save from a Warner free kick, conceded by Callum Leahy who earned himself a lengthy lecture from the referee in the process. The ball was floated over towards the far post, and Kenzer Lee was just inches away from getting his head to the ball in front of goal.
On 61 minutes Lewis Manor replaced Tony Stokes. A Leahy run along the left ended with a fine tackle by Jay Porter to concede a corner, which sailed harmlessly out of play.
At the other end a Fanimo run ended with a good cross into the middle, forcing Dicks to put the ball out for a corner, as Ross Wall closed in.
Lee then played a good ball to Warner, who weaved past two defenders, only to be denied by a fine Chafer save.
Mott had to punch away a long throw from the left, and Cooper headed a cross out for a corner, as Bowers replied strongly.
Manager Jim McFarlane brought on George Purcell for Fanimo, and Purcell almost broke through seconds later with his first touch of the ball, but he was bundled off the ball on the edge of the area.
Purcell was not to be denied, and three minutes later he moved along the right onto a long ball from Mott, and sent over the perfect centre, where the waiting Brad Warner eluded his marker to head the only goal of the match.
Bowers responded with a run along the right by Gavin Cockman but his cross was played away by Porter, and the best chance of the final few minutes came when Theo Fairweather-Johnson made a solo run at the defence, his hard shot flashing just wide of the post.
Elliot Styles replaced Ross Wall to play out the final few minutes of stoppage time, but Bowers offered no real threat to the Hornchurch goal, with two high balls into the middle being headed away confidently.