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George Sessions at Bridge Avenue
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Ryman Premier: Hornchurch 1 Dulwich 1
Hornchurch were forced to settle for a point against Dulwich in the Ryman Premier after Stefan Payne’s first-half opener was cancelled out late in the second period.
Payne smashed home from long range, but with 13 minutes remaining at Bridge Avenue the visitors equalised to ensure both sides had a share of the spoils.
Jimmy McFarlane named an unchanged team from the excellent weekend win over Maidstone and the hosts very nearly made the perfect start.
Tambeson Eyong won a free-kick on the right and Dave Rainford headed over George Purcell’s in-swinging set-piece from close range.
Hornchurch did take the lead after 15 minutes thanks to Payne’s 25th league goal of the season.
Payne and Danny Phillips ran into each other at first before the Urchins forward controlled the loose ball and lashed a shot in off the post from 25 yards to open the scoring.
That goal meant Payne and Purcell have a combined total of 50 league goals between them this year but although the hosts initially enjoyed lots of possession, the visitors slowly came into the game.
Dulwich captain Peter Adeniyi roamed forward into a dangerous position, but Frankie Curley blocked his cross before Rainford headed an inviting cross away.
Hornchurch were soon back on top, though, as Rickie Hayles and Eyong both had efforts saved before the break.
Payne nearly doubled Urchins lead after the restart, but whistled an effort wide after a solo run down the right.
Elliot Styles was magnificent throughout and made two crucial interceptions to deny Tommy Whitnell a clear run at goal.
James then tested Urchins keeper Inigo Echepare for the first time as he picked up the ball on the edge and forced the Spanish keeper to tip over the bar.
But five minutes after that chance and James did beat Echepare as he flicked in Dulwich substitute Erhun Oztumer’s excellent free-kick to level the match.
McFarlane introduced Martin Tuohy for his first league appearance of the season 10 minutes from time, hoping he could score a fairytale winner.
But it was Dulwich substitute Kershaney Samuels who nearly found the net with an inswinging cross that bounced just wide.
Tuohy and Purcell did link up wonderfully well on one occasion, but Purcell was pushed a bit too wide and curled his shot past the post.
And Dulwich nearly nicked victory at the end as Styles cleared an effort off the line before Echepare smothered the second attempt to ensure honours finished even.
A draw was a fair result on reflection as the two play-off rivals each enjoyed dominant spells in the game, but just couldn’t find the crucial second.
Hornchurch: Echepare, Rainford, Spencer, Styles, Hayles, Curley, Eyong, May (Starkey 75), Payne (Tuohy 80), Purcell, Phillips (Coyne 82).