Heartbreak for Hornchurch
PUBLISHED: 17:48 05 May 2014 | UPDATED: 19:21 05 May 2014
Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO c/o 27 Plaiters Way, Braintree, Essex, CM7 3LR - Editorial Use ONLY - FA Premier League and Football League images are subject to DataCo Licencing restrictions
Ryman Premier Play-off: Lowestoft 3 Hornchurch 0
Hornchurch’s quest to return to the Conference South fell at the final hurdle at a packed out Crown Meadow, as two second-half Lowestoft goals ensured they eased to a comfortable Ryman Premier play-off final win.
This final was a repeat of the 2012 encounter at Bridge Avenue, which Urchins won 2-1 thanks to a last-gasp winner from Michael Spencer.
But the Trawler Boys got their revenge here as Jake Reed inspired them to victory against a depleted away side.
Urchins captain Elliot Styles was only able to take up a place on the bench so captain for the day Rickie Hayles and Dave Rainford were tasked with keeping the dangerous Reed under wraps.
The former Dagenham & Redbridge forward was into the action immediately and created two opportunities for the hosts inside the opening five minutes.
Chris Henderson stabbed over the bar first after Reed and Robert Eagle combined on the left before Shaun Bammant scuffed straight at Inigo Echepare when through on goal a minute later.
Rossi Jarvis was next to try and test Echepare, but he fired wide from outside the box before the Lowestoft were forced to substitute Henderson.
Hayles fouled the Lowestoft man, and picked up a booking as a consequence, and that heavy tackle forced the winger off before Urchins tested Ashlee Jones for the first time in the 19th minute.
Leigh Bremner, replacing the suspended Stefan Payne, controlled the ball inside the box and fired goalwards but Jones was able to parry and Lowestoft cleared.
And just as Hornchurch were starting to settle into the game, the hosts took the lead on the half-hour mark.
Eagle controlled just inside the box and fired in at the near post, but Echepare would have been disappointed as he should have done better with the effort.
Urchins tried to force an equaliser before the break, but other than set-piece opportunities they failed to seriously test Lowestoft keeper Jones.
The visitors started the second period strongly, though, and a dangerous Chris Bourne cross nearly found Purcell but Sam Gaughran cleared before disaster struck.
Reed had looked threating throughout the first half and just three minutes into the second period he doubled Lowestoft’s advantage.
Bammant flicked on for Reed and, he held off Hayles, before smashing low into the net to extend the Lowestoft lead.
Martin Tuohy was introduced, but unfortunately for Urchins, a third goal for the Trawler Boys was just around the corner.
Echepare saved well from Eagle but was helpless to prevent Curtis Haynes-Brown from smashing home the third from outside the box.
A Lowestoft corner was cleared and the left-back fired through the crowded box of players and into the corner to make Hornchurch’s task a whole lot harder.
Urchins manager Jimmy McFarlane introduced Carl Rook and Danny Phillips to try and spark a comeback, but the visitors struggled to break down the Trawler Boys solid back four.
Bourne fired over late on before Tuohy came close to converting Purcell’s cross, but Hornchurch’s hopes had gone.
When the full time whistle came the Hornchurch players were out on their feet, deflated, as after a hard, season long effort they fell just short at the final hurdle.
Hornchurch: Echepare, Coyne (Tuohy 53), Spencer (Rook 60), Rainford, Hayles, Starkey, Eyong, May (Phillips 61), Bremner, Purcell, Bourne.