Football's the Winner
By Michael Jolly
Urchins 14s win great match in a great little stadium in Kent, hosted by table topping Ashford United........
Ashford United Youth 2 – 6 AFC Hornchurch
With no league game scheduled, the Urchins made the trip across the Thames for a friendly against Kent League table toppers, Ashford United at their highly impressive Homelands Stadium. With fair weather and great facilities, the scene was set for a feast of football.
From the first whistle, the visitors were on their game, pressing their hosts high up the pitch, pinning them in their own half. Whilst the tactic yielded a lot of possession, some resolute defending limited clear opportunities on goal. Ashford defended doggedly and sought to rely on swift counter attacks, looking to capitalise if Hornchurch over committed to attack. The pattern of play was set for the game. So it was somewhat of a surprise when Ashford opened the scoring after Hossack was dispossessed on the edge of his box, the home side forward smashing home to the delight of the local crowd.
As has happened several times this season, finding themselves behind, the Urchins stuck to their guns and showed great character to draw level and eventually go on to win the game comfortably. Lickfold saw his effort cleared off the line following a dazzling run and pull-back from Josh Olat, making his full debut for Hornchurch before Hossack atoned for his earlier lapse to level proceedings. Following a well struck Dutton corner and a couple of blocked efforts, Hossack lashed home into the roof of the net to make it 1-1. As half time approached and Hornchurch pressure mounted, Akindele fed Lee-Kelman who cut in from the left before curling a cracker in at the far post leaving the keeper a mere spectator. Whilst the away side bossed possession, Ashford continued to pose a threat on the counter and it took a smart stop at the striker’s feet from Soulsby to maintain the lead at half time. 1-2 to Hornchurch.
Despite both sides making changes, the pattern of play remained constant with Hornchurch playing some slick football to dominate the second period. Lee-Kelman doubled the lead when he latched on to an Olat through ball, deftly lobbing the advancing Ashford stopper. At 1-3, Ashford pushed to claw their way back into the game, forcing a reaction save from Walker who used his feet to repel a goal bound strike. Mundorfer settled the Hornchurch nerves and put the result beyond doubt when he volleyed home from close range following a Toshi corner and a determined run from Heath that drew the attentions of the Ashford defence. Molefi, who had been a thorn in the side of the Ashford defence all afternoon, added a fifth when he beat the keeper from a tight angle to make it 1-5. Ashford then enjoyed a good spell and put the visitors under some real pressure, yielding a consolation goal when the defence failed to close down the shot and a full stretch Soulsby could do little more than watch the well placed shot creep in at the far post. Determined to have the last say, the visitors added a sixth to put some gloss on the performance. Toshi who worked tirelessly throughout, was rewarded after hitting the woodwork twice, when he saw his sweet drive from 20 yards nestle in the bottom corner to finish the scoring.
Development - Despite playing some good football, there is still more to come from the Urchins side who need to eradicate costly errors from their game and perhaps could do better from set pieces, particularly free – kicks which regularly fly harmlessly over the bar, troubling the local wildlife more than opposition keepers!
All in all, a sterling performance from AFC Hornchurch against an Ashford side that provided stiff opposition. Both teams, management and supporters must have been pleased with a match that was played in a competitive but yet sporting manner, The setting, facilities and hospitality provided by Ashford United was second to none and made for a really enjoyable afternoon of sport. Well done and thanks to Ashford United Youth!