Bostik North: Hornchurch 1 Norwich United 0
PUBLISHED: 17:30 27 January 2018
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Hornchurch moved 10 points clear at the top of the Bostik North table thanks to George Purcell’s late winner at Bridge Avenue.
The leaders had slipped to a 1-0 home defeat against Barking in midweek, following a goalless draw at Dereham Town.
And they had to wait until the 87th minute before ending their goal drought, thanks to all-time leading scorer Purcell.
Urchins created early pressure and saw Purcell and Jamie Hursit get in crosses, which came to nothing, before Adam Hipperson sent a speculative effort over for the visitors.
Kenzer Lee and Nathan Cooper then combined, but Andrew Wilton saved, and Lee headed over from a Hursit free-kick on 18 minutes.
Norwich’s Ben Jones was booked for a foul on Nathan Livings, while Nathan Stewart shot wide from 25 yards for the visitors midway through the first half.
Wilton denied Purcell after a strong run and shot soon after, before Lee was shown a yellow card for a challenge on Hipperson.
Jay Porter crossed for Cooper to test Wilton with a header, before Brad Warner had a shot deflected over the crossbar, with Olumide Oluwatimilehin shooting wide from the resulting corner.
Urchins went close to breaking the deadlock on 32 minutes when Cooper met a corner from Livings but saw his header cannon off a post, while Warner raced on to Purcell’s pass and rounded Wilton only to then be closed down by the Norwich defence as the first half ended goalless.
The second half was barely two minutes old when Livings tried his luck from 20 yards but sent the ball wide, but neat play by Henry Pollock saw him curl a shot over Sam Mott’s crossbar on 51 minutes.
Wilton saved from Warner soon after, when the ball broke to the Hornchurch attacker, but the hosts had a let-off on 57 minutes when Norwich’s Sam Applegate saw his effort come back off the upright.
Jimmy McFarlane sent long-serving Elliot Styles on for Oluwatimilehin just past the hour mark, with Tobi Joseph replacing Warner soon after.
Livings and Joseph failed to seriously test Wilton with efforts as the match entered the final 15 minutes, but Urchins grabbed the points on 87 minutes as their all-time leading goalscorer Purcell found the back of the net once more.
Closest rivals Bowers slipped to defeat, meanwhile, to see Urchins extend their lead at the top to double figures ahead of a trip to local rivals Romford on Wednesday (7.45pm).
Hornchurch: Mott, Hursit, Porter, Lee, Cooper, Oluwatimilehin (Styles 61), Livings, Roberts, Fairweather-Johnson (McKenzie 83), Purcell, Warner (Joseph 66). Unused subs: Bentley, Assombalonga.