Hornchurch keep down Phoenix challenge
PUBLISHED: 20:24 15 April 2017 | UPDATED: 20:25 15 April 2017
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Hornchurch 4 Phoenix Sports 1
Kenzer Lee netted twice as Hornchurch claimed victory over play-off chasing Ryman North rivals Phoenix Sports at Bridge Avenue.
But despite the scoreline, it was the Urchins defence that took the honours, in a second half where Phoenix came back strongly, including a spell when they forced five corners in quick succession.
Hornchurch took an early lead when Sam Bantick intercepted a clearance and crossed from the right for Abs Seymour to convert at the far post.
Phoenix drew level 11 minutes later when Dajon Golding centred from the left and Theo Fairweather-Johnson headed home.
But it took less than a minute for Hornchurch to regain the lead as Seymour played the ball upfield and Gary Cohen was quick to intercept a Phoenix clearance, before slotting the ball through for Leon McKenzie to finish in style to record his 38th goal of the season.
It could have been 3-1 when McKenzie linked up with Martin Tuohy, who in turn played the ball along to Bantick, but he shot wide of the post.
Cohen and Bantick then sent Tuohy clear on the right, but his cross hit Ashley Probets and went out for a corner.
Sam Mott dealt with a Probets corner and held on to two long throws from Russell Bedford, before Christie Pattison ran through, but shot wide under pressure from Cohen.
Tuohy was a constant threat to the Phoenix defence and went close with a fine run past a retreating defence, but sent his shot too high and over the bar.
A Bantick shot was turned out for a corner and Seymour sent the ball across to Lee, who headed home from close range at the far post.
As the half drew to a close, Bantick almost added a fourth, whilst another long throw from Bedford was turned away for a corner.
The second half started with a good run by Tuohy, whose cross found McKenzie, but his first time drive cannoned back off a defender to Bantick, whose follow-up shot was deflected out for a corner.
Then came a spell of concentrated Phoenix pressure, resulting in five corners in quick succession, before Teddy Nesbitt finally cleared upfield.
Phoenix continued to press, but the fourth Hornchurch goal followed when a Nesbitt free kick was tipped over the bar by Steve Phillips.
Seymour took the corner and Lee was again ideally placed to head home his second goal of the match.
Mott dealt with a free kick at the other end, where good defensive work by Lee, John Easterford and Styles prevented the visitors from getting any further shots on target.
Abs Thompson, George Purcell and Nathan Cooper all came on for late cameo appearances, but Phoenix had a chance to get back into the game when Easterford was penalised inside the area. Fairweather-Johnson stepped up to take the penalty and Mott dived to save.
In stoppage time, Easterford went close with a header, and Purcell almost set up McKenzie in front of goal, only for Jack Barry to intercept the cross.
Third-placed Hornchurch visit Aveley on Bank Holiday Monday, for the last-ever match to be played at Mill Field (6.30pm).
Hornchurch: Mott, Cohen, Nesbitt, Lee, Easterford, Styles (Cooper 86), Bantick (Thompson 75) Chouman McKenzie, Touhy (Purcell 78), Seymour. Unused subs: Wall, Hussain.