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Joy for Payne and Hornchurch

PUBLISHED: 08:48 23 March 2014 | UPDATED: 08:48 23 March 2014

Stefan Payne (9) scored Hornchurch 's winner against Maidstone (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)

Stefan Payne (9) scored Hornchurch 's winner against Maidstone (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)

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: Hornchurch 1 Maidstone 0

Stefan Payne scored the only goal of the game to give Hornchurch all three points in their crucial Ryman Premier match against Maidstone at Bridge Avenue.

The Urchins marksman found the net in the first half before the visitors had two men sent off in the second period.

The red cards seemed to affect the hosts more, though, as Maidstone pushed for an equaliser, but Urchins – beaten at home by basement boys Cray in midweek – defended superbly to ensure keeper Inigo Echepare was rarely tested and able to keep a tenth clean sheet in the league this season.

Hornchurch manager Jimmy McFarlane handed a debut to new signing Danny Phillips and he nearly helped open the scoring after 11 minutes.

Philips’ flick released Rickie Hayles down the right and Payne met his cross with a header that forced Stones keeper Lee Worgan into a top save.

Maidstone nearly tested Echepare midway through the first half, but Rory Hill’s header was deflected over by Michael Spencer.

Then in the 25th minute Hornchurch took the lead through Payne’s 24th league goal of the season.

The ball ran loose in midfield and Elliot Styles played it through for Payne to race forward and fire into the roof of the net.

Tambeson Eyong nearly doubled the advantage but he lashed wide from 25 yards before Hornchurch were left wondering how they didn’t add a second with the last action of the half.

Phillips, who enjoyed a fantastic debut, whipped in a corner and Hayles had the first attempt blocked before Payne’s close range shot was partly smothered by Worgan. Dave Rainford then had two bites at the cherry but Maidstone somehow kept the ball out.

Both teams had great opportunities at the start of the second half with Payne firing wide following George Purcell’s knock down before Maidstone’s Hill smashed straight at Echepare.

The visitors enjoyed an extended spell of pressure but the impressive Rainford deflected a shot from Jack Harris wide before Alex Flisher headed over.

And after Styles made a last-ditch challenge on Zac Attwood inside the box, the loose ball was sliced wide by Harris.

Maidstone’s Flisher was awarded a straight red card shortly after for catching Spencer with a high boot before visiting captain Michael Phillips was also given his marching orders minutes later.

Phillips had been booked earlier in the half and after the referee pulled back his attempt at a quick free-kick, his remonstration earned him a second yellow card.

The two dismissals did not make the game a mismatch, though, and Maidstone continued to push for an equalising goal.

Frannie Collin was introduced for the away side and he nearly produced a telling cross but Hayles was able to clear as five minutes were added on.

Rainford nearly doubled Urchins lead in injury time, but Worgan saved and the full time whistle followed short afterwards to give Hornchurch a vitally important win as they bid to keep themselves in the promotion hunt.

Jimmy McFarlane’s men welcome Dulwich to Bridge Avenue on Tuesday.

Hornchurch: Echepare, Rainford, Spencer, Styles, Hayles, Curley, Eyong (Starkey 83), May, Payne, Purcell (Bremner 90), Phillips (Rook 77).

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