Happy Christmas for Hornchurch
- Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo
Hornchurch 3 Aveley 1
Hornchurch ensured a happy Christmas for their supporters with a fully-deserved win over high-flying Ryman North rivals Aveley at Bridge Avenue.
All four goals came in a nine-minute spell towards the end of the first half, with Urchins striker Leon McKenzie adding two more to his impressive tally to reach 20 for the campaign, while Kenzer Lee netted his first of the term.
And victory extended the home side’s unbeaten league run to 14 matches, lifting them into the play-off places in fifth with a trip to struggling Brentwood to come on the last day of the year.
There was a brief scare for the hosts on six minutes when Sam Mott scuffed a clearance to Jack Edwards, but the Aveley midfielder pulled a low drive wide of the far post from just outside the box.
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Abs Seymour then did well to get past former Urchin Billy Coyne on the Hornchurch left and sent a deep cross into the box, beyond any of his team-mates, and referee Neil Morrison spoke to Nathan Cooper and Michael Toner after the pair clashed near the corner flag.
Hornchurch centre-back Cooper then timed a run well at the other end to meet a Seymour corner, only to see his header saved at the far post by Lamar Johnson.
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And the hosts were awarded a free-kick around 30 yards out, on the left, when Adelberto Pinto caught Thompson with a stray forearm, for which he was lectured by the match official, but Seymour’s delivery was cleared by the advancing Johnson and JJ Da Cruz then slipped while attempting to deliver the ball back into the box from the right side.
Alex Bentley’s long ball from the back found Junior Luke in space on the left, but his cross landed on the roof of the Aveley net on 18 minutes.
Then Cooper’s pass up the right was missed by Tommy Spillane and McKenzie teed up Thompson, whose drive was deflected behind.
The hosts were starting to gain the upper hand midway through the half, though, and Ross Wall flashed a dangerous ball across Johnson’s goal, but Thompson could not convert at the far post.
But ee was then penalised for a challenge on Mason Bloomfield on 27 minutes, with Coyne firing into the wall and Edwards slicing the follow-up attempt well wide.
Hornchurch were soon back on the attack, with McKenzie finding Thompson to stand up a cross, which Wall headed wide at the far post.
Then Bentley joined another attack on the right, latching on to Thompson’s pass and winning a corner on the half-hour mark, which Johnson flapped at, before Seymour’s clever pass put in Thompson to release a well-struck drive, which the Aveley keeper saved with his legs.
Urchins deservedly opened the scoring on 34 minutes when Mott’s long kick was helped on by Wall to Luke and his cross was steered home by McKenzie.
However, their joy was shortlived as Millers were back on terms within two minutes when Coyne delivered a corner from the right and Bloomfield rose highest to thump home a header.
Luke tried his luck from long range moments later, but Johnson saved comfortably, before Seymour was taken down by Edwards wide on the Hornchurch left, then delivered a perfect free-kick to the far post for Lee to nod home and restore the home side’s lead on 40 minutes.
And Urchins went 3-1 up just three minutes later when the livewire Thompson raced past tormented left-back Joe Clark and centred for McKenzie to sidefoot home at the near post.
It was no more than McFarlane’s men deserved for their first-half efforts – in front of a crowd of 273 – and Jed Chouman got the first sight of goal in the second half, firing straight at Johnson six minutes after the restart.
Aveley, despite replacing Edwards with Jeremiah Maja during the interval, were struggling to make much of an impact on the home defence and made a second change on the hour, sending Gaz Dauti on for Dan Odamo.
But Urchins looked more likely to add to the scoreline, with their front players continuing to link up well as the back four held firm.
The visitors needed a moment of inspiration, but were found wanting again as Coyne’s free-kick was cleared and Bentley countered to good effect, before Wall’s cross was headed away from the lurking McKenzie by Jordan Peart.
And the hosts went closer to a fourth on 72 minutes when Chouman tip-toed his way into a shooting position, but saw Johnson push the ball over, before Da Cruz had a low effort from the resulting corner tipped behind at the foot of a post.
The hard-working Wall ballooned a left-footed shot over from McKenzie’s lay-off, after Seymour had played an incisive pass up to the striker, and Luke sent a bobbling effort past the post as Urchins continued to search for more rewards.
And McFarlane made his first change with 11 minutes to go, as Gary Cohen came on for Wall, who appeared to be suffering from cramp after covering plenty of ground, before Joey May was sent on for Thompson for a late cameo, following his return to the club from Ryman Premier Division outfit Canvey Island.
Coyne was left clutching his right knee, after a challenge with Cohen where both players met the ball at precisely the same time, but returned after treatment to limp his way through the five minutes of stoppage time, as McFarlane sent James Morrish on for McKenzie.
But they were mere footnotes at the end of a most satisfactory evening for Hornchurch, who will now be able to enjoy their Christmas dinners, before getting back to work next Saturday.
Hornchurch: Mott, Bentley, Da Cruz, Lee, Cooper, Chouman, Thompson (May 83), Seymour, McKenzie (Morrish 90), Wall (Cohen 79), Luke. Subs: Styles, Coley.