Bostik North: Hertford Town 0 Hornchurch 3
PUBLISHED: 07:00 04 February 2018
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Hornchurch maintained their 13-point lead at the top of the table with victory at Hertford on Saturday.
On a very wet day, on an extremely muddy pitch, the hosts had the better of the territorial play in the first half.
But two goals from Theo Fairweather-Johnson gave Hornchurch a commanding lead, and George Purcell added a third in the second half, to ensure a comfortable three points.
Hertford had plenty of possession, with Ricky Light setting the pace on the wing, and Jay Lovell sending over a series of long throws, all of which were confidently cleared by the Hornchurch defence.
And Hornchurch went ahead with their first attacking move of the match, when Purcell threatened on the left, but the ball was played out for a throw.
Jay Porter sent the throw towards the near post where Fairweather-Johnson hooked the ball over Charlie Mann and into the net, to the delight of the very large and noisy visiting following.
Hertford could have drawn level a minute later, when Sam Mott made an excellent save from Ricky Light’s long range shot.
The home side enjoyed the better of the territorial play, building up from midfield, only for most of their moves to be thwarted by Nathan Cooper, Kenzer Lee and Elliot Styles in the heart of the defence.
Michael Toner made a good run along the left, and his cross was turned out by Jamie Hursit for a corner, taken by Light and comfortably cleared.
A similar run by Toner met the same fate, whilst another long throw reached Brett O’Connor, who put his shot wide of the goal.
Back at the other end Cooper headed wide from a Brad Warner corner, although Hertford continued to have the better of the play, without troubling a very confident Mott, who dealt with a series of high crosses.
Four minutes before the interval, Nathan Livings sent in a well-flighted free kick from the left, for Fairweather-Johnson to head home.
Leon McKenzie and Alex Bentley replaced Brad Warner and Sean Roberts at the interval, with Bentley operating in midfield, and four minutes into the second half a long ball from Mott found Purcell running past his marker, but Mann in the home goal made a fine save to deny what appeared to be a certain goal.
Bentley made a powerful run along the left, and his cross was cut out before the ball could reach Purcell in front of goal. and back at the other end a Brett O’Connor shot from the wing was cleared by the joint efforts of Hursit and Porter, who deflected the ball out for a corner.
Livings was shown a yellow card for a tackle on the very soft and slippery surface, and Jay Lovell sent the free kick hard towards goal, where Mott saved in fine style.
A poor Hertford free kick was promptly played back to Purcell, out on the left, and although McKenzie met the centre with a diving header, the ball went narrowly wide of the post.
A surging run through the middle by Bentley ended with him being brought down inside the area, and one yellow card for the offender later, Purcell planted the penalty firmly into the net for the third goal.
McKenzie again went close from a Purcell cross, following a good build up by Livings, and Hornchurch were now in a commanding position, with the home team rarely able to break out of defence.
Another Purcell cross towards the far post found Fairweather-Johnson, but his shot went wide.
Chris Assombalonga replaced a very muddy Purcell who had been a constant threat to the home defence, and it was Assombalonga who almost got onto the scoresheet in the final minute of normal time, when Mann tipped his shot around the post.
An excellent performance against a very physical Hertford side, on a pitch that deteriorated markedly as the match progressed, and Hornchurch maintained their big lead at the top of the table.
Hornchurch: Mott, Hursit, Porter, Lee, Cooper, Styles, Livings, Roberts (Bentley 46), Fairweather-Johnson, Purcell (Assombalonga 76), Warner (McKenzie 46)
Unused subs: Joseph, Lambert.