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Ryman Premier: Hornchurch 4 Leiston 2

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Hornchurch moved up to fourth place in the Ryman Premier Division table after completing a league double over Leiston.

Stefan Payne’s hat-trick had lifted Urchins to a 3-2 success in Suffolk in September and the striker struck twice more in the return in front of a Bridge Avenue crowd of 255.

And victory will have certainly given Jimmy McFarlane’s men a boost ahead of their scheduled trip to third-placed Wealdstone tomorrow (Monday).

Having played only five matches in 2014 – which is still more than quite a few clubs – Hornchurch saw the visitors have the first chance of note, with Joe Jefford heading a fourth-minute corner over the crossbar.

But Urchins opened the scoring three minutes later when the referee played a good advantage, after George Purcell was fouled, and Payne ran through to beat former Urchins keeper Danny Gay.

The hosts had Michael Spencer to thank for a goalline clearance on 13 minutes, after a big goalmouth scramble, before seeing Dave Rainford’s shot charged down from a Joey May corner.

But Leiston had their chances, forcing a string of corners and a fine save from Inigo Echepare midway through the first half.

Payne was denied a second on 29 minutes when his header was cleared off the line, but Urchins doubled their lead soon after as Payne’s quick throw-in sent strike partner Purcell into space to drill his shot past Gay.

Good work by Leigh Bremner created a chance for Payne on 38 minutes, but Gay was equal to it, and Leiston saw substitute Ryan Crisp send a speculative effort from 25 yards wide before the break.

The visitors began the second half well, with Urchins battling against a strong headwind, and cut the gap just before the hour through Leon Ottley-Gooch.

But their joy was shortlived as Hornchurch restored their two-goal cushion just two minutes later as Payne tucked home his second of the afternoon.

Payne went close to completing his hat-trick moments later, after a strong run by Frankie Curley, but Gay saved well.

And Leiston gave themselves renewed hope on 66 minutes when Echepare spilled a cross into the box and Rhys Henry pounced to score.

Hornchurch moved 4-2 up just a minute later, though, as Bremner got in on the act, tucking away May’s cross.

And Phil Starkey fired straight at Gay, before Leiston had a goal ruled out for a foul on Echepare on 73 minutes and Purcell blazed high over the bar after a good run for the hosts.

The chances continued to come for Urchins, with more good work from Curley creating an opening for Bremner, who fired across goal on 79 minutes.

And a long throw-in by Billy Coyne was flicked on and headed over by Payne as normal time drew to a close.

Hornchurch: Echepare, Coyne, Spencer, Styles, Rainford, Curley, Starkey, May, Payne, Purcell (Rook 78), Bremner (Eyong 82).

Unused subs: Lechmere, Hayles, Bowditch.

*Romford’s home meeting with Cheshunt in Ryman One North fell victim to a waterlogged Ship Lane pitch.

Boro are due to host former landlords Aveley on Wednesday, weather permitting.

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