Hornchurch hail Bourne winner
20:23 26 April 2014
Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO c/o 27 Plaiters Way, Braintree, Essex, CM7 3LR - Editorial Use ONLY - FA Premier League and Football League
Ryman Premier: Hornchurch 1 Met Police 0
Everything fell into place for Hornchurch on the final day of the Ryman Premier Division season to ensure they have at least one more match remaining this campaign.
Urchins started the day in sixth place, but Chris Bourne’s header proved decisive at Bridge Avenue to defeat Met Police and Kingstonian’s draw at fellow hopefuls Dulwich allowed Jimmy McFarlane’s men to jump into fifth place above the south Londoners.
Hornchurch will now visit Kingsmeadow Stadium to take on second-placed K’s in the play-off semi-finals on Wednesday, while Bognor host Lowestoft in the other tie.
Urchins, after a disastrous Easter weekend had seen them drop out of the top five, started this must-win fixture with a great tempo, but despite their good energy chances failed to materialise early on.
Danny Phillips did have an early effort easily saved, but the first action to note was in the 21st minute when Stefan Payne had two shots in quick succession.
Joey May’s corner set up the 27-goal Hornchurch forward and although he miscued his effort, Met Police keeper Dave Smalley seemed to lose his bearing and allowed the looping ball to bounce off the bar.
The rebound fell back to Payne but after he outmuscled his marker, he whizzed a shot just past the post.
Elliot Styles and Tambeson Eyong both picked up bookings before the hosts cranked up the pressure before the break with three good chances in the final five minutes of the half.
Having been forced to apologise for some remarks made on social media site Twitter during the week, Payne was doing his upmost to atone and came close again when he raced forward, but Smalley parried his powerful strike.
Hornchurch’s strike force linked up after, with Payne flicking back for George Purcell, but he blazed over the bar under pressure before Eyong headed straight at Smalley in added time to keep it goalless at the break.
McFarlane was forced into a change at the interval, introducing Bourne for injured captain Styles.
And it proved to be an inspired substitution as just three minutes into the second period Bourne beat Smalley with a fantastic header back across goal.
Purcell and Eyong kept the ball alive and the former delivered an inch perfect cross from the right for Bourne to convert in off the post.
The visitors made a triple substitution in the 59th minute as dangerous trio Tyrone Smith, Bradley Hudson-Odoi and Charlie Collins were introduced.
Hudson-Odoi was straight into the action but Frankie Curley stopped him slaloming through on goal with an excellent last-ditch tackle.
Dave Rainford nearly doubled Hornchurch’s lead, but Smalley tipped away his header, while at the other end Collins got in behind substitute Billy Coyne but sliced well wide.
Tension was starting to build at Bridge Avenue as the league campaign drew to a close with various scenarios still available.
But despite three additional minutes, Hornchurch and the fantastic Rickie Hayles remained solid and saw out the match to give themselves a fighting chance of playing Conference South football again next season.
Hornchurch: Echepare, Rainford, Starkey, Styles (Bourne 46), Hayles, Curley, Eyong, May (Spencer 83), Payne, Purcell, Phillips (Coyne 73).