Hayles is Hornchurch’s head boy
PUBLISHED: 22:12 30 April 2014 | UPDATED: 22:12 30 April 2014
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Ryman Play-off: Kingstonian 0 Hornchurch 1
Rickie Hayles ensured Hornchurch would contest the Ryman Premier play-off final as he scored the only goal of the game at Kingsmeadow to help see off Kingstonian.
Hayles was phenomenal throughout and his header, early in the second half, ensured Urchins are one step closer to regaining their place in the Conference South for next season.
Although K’s dominated the opening half, Hornchurch battled brilliantly throughout and delighted the travelling faithful with a compact display.
The match started at an incredible pace, with both sides eager to strike first and it was Urchins who had the first opportunity, but Chris Bourne dragged wide before K’s Andre McCollin clipped the post with a cross that evaded everyone.
The hosts took confidence from that chance and Daniel Pappoe nearly put them ahead, but flicked across the face of goal before volleying wide a minute later.
Tambeson Eyong was next to go close for Hornchurch, but he sliced well wide from the edge of the box before the crowd were able to draw breath with just ten minutes gone.
Kingstonian soon went close again, though, as McCollin whipped a free-kick around the wall, but hit the stanchion of the goal instead of finding the net.
Midway through the half Stefan Payne was booked for a silly deliberate handball and unfortunately it was the beginning of the end for the striker.
The K’s fans were doing their best to wind up the Urchins forward from the off and, after he gave a couple needless fouls away, they were calling for a second yellow card.
It wasn’t forthcoming, but after Payne squared up to Kingstonian’s Josh Casey, manager Jimmy McFarlane was left with no choice but to haul off the forward and he was replaced by Leigh Bremner.
With his head still in his hands, Payne didn’t see the next chance for the hosts, but fortunately for Urchins, Ryan Moss headed over.
Eyong and Frankie Curley picked up bookings before the half drew to a close, with Hornchurch relieved to still be level.
Predictably the second period started at a much quieter pace compared to the first but on the 56-minute mark, the only goal was scored.
And despite being under pressure for much of the first period it was Hornchurch who claimed it thanks to the exceptional Hayles as powered home Joey May’s corner to send the Urchins supporters behind the goal into ecstasy.
Michael Spencer replaced injured captain Elliot Styles and was straight into the action as his poor clearance allowed Dee Okojie to race clear, but Inigo Echepare saved well down to his left.
Urchins remained defiant, though, with Hayles a leading presence throughout as he headed clear every ball sent towards Hornchurch’s goal.
An excellent burst of pace from Eyong nearly set up George Purcell for a chance, but his final pass was overhit before Hornchurch hearts skipped a beat when K’s Ryan Moss fired across the face of Echepare’s goal.
As the clock hit the 90-minute mark Hayles came so close to sealing the win, but his low header hit the post before five minutes were added on.
The home side pushed to equalise and sent up keeper Rob Tolfrey for a corner before Dave Rainford made a sensational last-ditch tackle.
Moss was about to pull the trigger inside the box, but Rainford slid in magnificently before Echepare picked up the loose ball.
The final whistle followed soon afterwards as Urchins booked themselves a spot in the play-off final at Lowestoft on Monday with an outstanding determined display.
The sides will meet in a repeat of the 2012 final, which Urchins won thanks to a last-gasp Spencer winner at Bridge Avenue, and Urchins will need another huge effort on the Suffolk coast.
Hornchurch: Echepare, Rainford, Starkey, Styles (Spencer 62), Hayles, Curley, Eyong, May (Coyne 75), Payne (Bremner 35), Purcell, Bourne.