HORNCHURCH SECURE A PLACE IN THE PLAY-OFFS
By Tony Middleton
George Purcell scores his 100th goal for the Urchins. And an incredible penalty save by Sam Mott
HORNCHURCH 2 HEYBRIDGE SWIFTS 1
HFC - Mott - Eyong - Bentley - Styles - Cooper - Goodacre (May at half time) - Thompson (Freeman 89) - Collis - Knight - Purcell - Symons
Subs - McKenzie - Dove - St Aimie
HS - Sambridge - Alleyne - Emsden - Dark - Thomas © - Anderson - Palmer (Duyile 78) - Godbold - Barham - Cole - Reynolds
Subs - Pooley - Smith - Riches - Devenish
Officials - Gary Jerden with Kirk Edwards and Steven Marr
Scorers - Palmer (27 (HS) - Cooper 46 (H) - Purcell 64p
Bookings - Godbold 68 (HS) - Bentley 83 (H) - Dark 89 (HS)
Duration 47.00 + 48.00
Weather - overcast, 7 degrees.
HORNCHURCH 2 HEYBRIDGE SWIFTS 1
Hornchurch booked their place in the play-offs with two goals in the second half against Heybridge Swifts, but, on the day when George Purcell scored his 100th goal for the Urchins, the ultimate result hinged on two penalties.
In the first half, Hornchurch had three opportunities to open the score in the first fifteen minutes. George Purcell made a good run at the defence only to fire his shot narrowly wide of the goal.
Nathan Symons volleyed over, and the ever dangerous David Knight ran on to a Tambeson Eyong throw, only for Danny Sambridge to tip his header over the bar.
Sambridge was in action shortly afterwards, with a good save from Abs Thompson, who had taken a pass from Eyong, and moved in rapidly from the right.
Heybridge, after a lengthy period when they concentrated on defence, came more into the match as an attacking force, but they rarely threatened, until, on 29 minutes, a corner was sent in from the left, and Jordan Palmer stabbed the ball home.
Hornchurch quickly came back, and when Dave Collis sent an excellent ball to Purcell, Sambridge saved in fine style.
In stoppage time in the first half, Knight went close with a shot that beat Sambridge but dropped over the bar, and Sambridge saved again from Purcell a minute later.
Joey May replaced Paul Goodacre at the interval, and it was May’s free kick that led to the equaliser within a minute of the restart, when Nathan Cooper headed home via a post.
Ten minutes later, Heybridge won a corner on the right and Collis conceded a penalty. George Cole took the kick, and Sam Mott made an excellent diving save, followed by two more incredible blocks from the follow up.
Abs Thompson then made a penetrating run down the middle and was fouled. The free kick was ten yards outside the area, but the defensive wall was ideally placed to defend Purcell’s free kick.
A minute later a Nicky Symons inspired move ended when George Purcell was fouled inside the area, for a penalty, and George Purcell hammered the ball hard into the net to become the first player to score 100 goals for the Urchins. It was also his 39th of the season, which equalled the record for the number of goals in one season by a Hornchurch player.
Purcell had a chance a few minutes later with another free kick, but once again the Heybridge wall blocked he shot.
Eyong sent Thompson away on the right but Sambridge saved well, turning the shot around the post.
Heybridge could offer no further threat on the home goal, and Hornchurch had no difficulty in playing out the three minutes of stoppage time to secure their play off position.