Hornchurch held by lowly Wroxham
PUBLISHED: 19:05 18 March 2017 | UPDATED: 19:06 18 March 2017
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Hornchurch 1 Wroxham 1
Promotion-chasing Hornchurch had to settle for a point against Ryman North strugglers Wroxham at Bridge Avenue on a frustrating afternoon.
Urchins were expected to win comfortably against a team sitting at the foot of the table, but after an encouraging opening spell, they failed to press home their home advantage.
It could have been very different had Martin Tuohy found the net in the first minute, when a Jed Chouman shot was blocked and Tuohy’s follow-up was tipped over the bar by Elliott Pride.
Wroxham were forced to defend for long periods but they almost found a way through when Aristote Kameneno cut in from the left, only to be tackled by Alex Bentley.
On 10 minutes Tuohy sent leading scorer Leon McKenzie away on the right, but his shot was wide of the mark.
Abs Thompson then created an opening with a good run along the right wing, and his cross into the middle reached Ross Wall, whose shot was deflected out for a corner.
Two more corners followed in quick succession as the Wroxham defence struggled to hold out, but they again broke upfield, wining two corners of their own, both of which were taken by Tom Rampling, with the second finding Ross Gilfedder, who directed his header wide of the target.
Hornchurch took the lead on 29 minutes when Alex Bentley gained possession inside his own half and from the resulting attack, the Wroxham defence failed to clear a long ball into the goalmouth as Tuohy gratefully accepted the gift of an open goal.
But the anticipated goal rush did not happen, although a Teddy Nesbitt free kick was headed against the post in a packed goalmouth.
At the other end Elliot Styles covered well when Kameneno almost broke through on the left, conceding a corner in the process.
Then. close to half time, McKenzie played a good pass out to Thompson, but his shot hit a defender and deflected out for a corner.
Hornchurch kicked into a strong wind in the second half, and found it difficult to find a way through a resolute defence.
But they could have doubled their lead when Thompson took a crossfield pass from McKenzie and made a long run on the right, then cut inside to send a shot past Pride but back off the inside of the post.
Wroxham slowly came more into the game and Bentley did well to clear a difficult centre from Jack Newman, before Thompson again threatened as he ran on to a Tuohy pass and his shot cannoned off a defender for a corner.
McKenzie went close with a long range shot when he found Pride off his line, but the ball went wide of the goal, and Thompson was denied a possible scoring opportunity when he was upended by Ben Lewis, who was injured in the process and was substituted, the referee waving a yellow card as he left the pitch.
Urchins keeper Sam Mott had not had to make a save to this point, other than to field some centres and long balls, but that changed on 76 minutes, when a free kick was deflected for a corner.
Rampling sent the ball into the middle, where it was only cleared as far as Connor Deeks, who promptly fired it back past the home defence and into the net for a surprise, albeit deserved, equaliser for the Yachtsmen.
Tobi Joseph came on for Tuohy and beat three defenders in a good run along the left, but Wall could not take advantage from the cross, with his shot being blocked by Stefano Mallardo.
The final 15 minutes, plus five more minutes of stoppage time, saw both teams looking somewhat nervous, but it was Pride in the Wroxham goal who came under the most pressure, saving from Wall and McKenzie.
Honours finished even, though, and third-placed Urchins will consider it two points lost against a team fighting against relegation but who played far better than their position in the table suggested.
Hornchurch: Mott, Bentley, Nesbitt, Lee, Styles, Chouman, Thompson (Adeniji 84), Seymoour, McKenzie, Wall, Tuohy (Joseph 72). Unused subs: Easterford, Coker, Hussain.