HORNCHURCH DRAW AT BURY TOWN
By Tony Middleton
Ricky Freeman scores. A magnificent goalkeeping display by Callum Chafer. Four players make their debut.
BURY TOWN 1 HORNCHURCH 1
BT - O’Sullivan - Allen - Gardner - Kennedy (Collins 78) - Miller - Hall - Garrett - Aitken (Wavers 84) - Hughes (Jolland 71) - Mayhew - Reed
Sub - Wigley
HFC - Chafer - King - Chouman - Piper - Cooper - Dove - May - Dickens - McKenzie - Freeman (Bentley 90+4) - St Aimie (Holland 86)
Subs - Thompson - Eyong - Styles
Officials - Paul Burnham with Nigel Howes and Gary Boules
Scorers - Freeman 21 (H) - Hughes 62 (BT)
Booking - Piper 62 (H) OFF
Duration 46.00 + 50.00
Weather - 9 degrees, sunny
BURY TOWN 1 HORNCHURCH 1
The last time we went to Bury, the coach was held up for nearly two hours on the A12 near Colchester. It was a similar story today, only this time the two hour delay was due to a puncture. As a result, the coach arrived at 3.30 and the kick off was delayed until 4 pm.
The car park, which also serves the town centre and the Abbey, was packed, and so was the ground, as Bury had all of their youth and junior teams out on the pitch. The net result was an official attendance of 703.
For Hornchurch, a number of St Georges were present, albeit without a dragon, whilst the real George was not in the squad.
Hornchurch fielded only three first team regulars in the starting line up, and four players made their debuts.
Bury kicked with the strong wind in the first half, and had an early header rebound off the crossbar.
The ball was quickly played up the field and Ricky Freeman ran forward and crossed into the middle, where home keeper Neil O’Sullivan gathered at the second attempt.
O’Sullivan was back in action a minute later, saving well from a Kieron St Aimie header, and it was O’Sullivan once again two minutes later, when he just beat Leon McKenzie to a Freeman through ball.
Hornchurch had a scare when Joey May lost possession in midfield, allowing Noel Aitken to run forward and shoot, and Callum Chafer made an excellent save to prevent an otherwise certain goal.
Luke Piper then made a timely interception to deny Ollie Hughes, and it was Chafer again who rose to touch a header over the bar from an inswinging corner.
Hornchurch took the lead on 21 minutes when a long throw caused consternation in the home goalmouth, and after what seemed an age, Ricky Freeman bundled the ball over the line and into the net.
Play was confined in midfield for most of the remainder of the half, although Chafer made two excellent saves in the final five minutes to preserve Hornchurch’s lead.
The wind dropped at the interval, and Hornchurch had to defend two corners in the first few minutes, whilst at the other end a Dickens centre led to a goalmouth scramble before the ball was punted clear.
On 62 minutes Bury drew level, in slightly fortuitous fashion, when a speculative lob by Ollie Hughes on the edge of the area dropped into the net.
A minute later came the only booking in a match where there was not one single bad tackle, but it turned out to be an extremely controversial red card, a decision which left the away support completely stunned. Luke Piper was the victim, having made what seemed a perfectly fair challenge for a midfield ball.
A player short, Hornchurch were forced to defend in depth, but Chafer again rose to the occasion with a fine save from substitute Ryan Jolland, and Will King made a brilliant tackle to deny Sam Reed.
In addition to being denied what seemed to be a clear-cut penalty. Hornchurch had two further chances, one when Freeman was crowded out before he could shoot, and again when Freeman was just a fraction away from a Dickens centre.
Frankie Holland made a very belated debut - belated as he had to wait some seven minutes before coming onto the pitch, and Alex Bentley came on for the final few seconds of an over-long three minutes of stoppage time, which lasted five minutes before the final whistle sounded.