Bostik North: Dereham Town 0 Hornchurch 0
PUBLISHED: 16:54 20 January 2018 | UPDATED: 16:54 20 January 2018
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Hornchurch moved seven points clear at the top of the table, with a game in hand, after a hard-fought draw at fourth-placed Dereham.
Nearest rivals Bowers saw their home match agaisnt Romford fall victim to a waterlogged pitch at the Len Salmon Stadium, but Urchins made the long trip to Norfolk, as a host of other matches fell victim to the wet weather.
Brad Warner saw an early effort at Aldiss Park blocked behind for a corner on nine minutes, before forcing a fine save from Elliot Pride just before the quarter-hour mark.
But the next Hornchurch chance did not come until the half-hour mark when Warner’s free-kick was half-cleared to Olumide Oluwatimilehin, whose shot was saved by the feet of Pride.
Warner was booked soon after, then saw a corner drift wide to George Purcell, whose ball back into the box was cleared off the line five minutes before the break.
Debutant Chris Assombalonga, having joined from Waltham Abbey late in the week, then twisted and turned to create a shooting chance from 25 yards, but sent the ball wide of the target as the first half ended goalless.
Dereham had the first chance of note in the second half, sending a header wide froma free kick on 51 minutes, then putting another effort into the side netting moments later.
But after Assombalonga earned a debut booking, some good work by Sean Roberts then set up Warner, who was also just the wrong side of the post on 55 minutes.
Warner then saw a cross cleared only as far as Roberts, who fired wide, and Theo Fairweather-Johnson had a shot pushed behind by Pride midway through the half, before Purcell had an effort deflected behind.
Assombalonga made way for Leon McKenzie for the final 18 minutes, but Urchins had Sam Mott to thank for a good save as Dereham pressed, before McKenzie fired wide from Oluwatimilehin’s through ball.
Dereham then forced several corners in quick succession, but the Hornchurch defence held firm, and Warner went close in the last minute of normal time when a superb free-kick forced a great save from Pride.
Hornchurch return to Bridge Avenue on Tuesday to host Barking.
Hornchurch: Mott, Bentley, Porter, Lee, Cooper, Oluwatimilehin, Fairweather-Johnson, Roberts, Assombalonga (McKenzie 72), Purcell (Joseph 87), Warner. Unused subs: Hursit, Livings, Styles.