Hornchurch make history with FA Trophy triumph at Wembley
- Credit: PA
Hornchurch 3 Hereford 1
The 'pub team from Hornchurch' made history by winning the Buildbase FA Trophy in dramatic circumstances at Wembley Stadium.
Having produced a string of giantkillings on their way to the final, Mark Stimson's men managed another to complete the fairytale finish of them all.
Stimson had won the competition four times already, as a player with Canvey Island and then as manager of Grays (twice) and Stevenage, in successive seasons.
And an inspired double substitution on the hour proved a masterstroke as his side, trailing to an early, defleted Tom Owen-Evans effort, found new life to draw level and then score two late goals in front of their own supporters at the sunny end of the stadium to clinch the silverware on the greatest day in the club's 98-year history.
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Stimson named the same starting line-up as from the semi-final win at Notts County, some eight weeks earlier, and barely 30 seconds had been played when Hereford’s Chris Camwell took aim from long range and fired high over Joe Wright’s crossbar.
The Hornchurch goalkeeper - twice a penalty shoot-out hero en route to Wembley - had a brief scare when slipping as he kicked downfield under pressure from Joey Butlin and Hereford fans were appealing for a penalty when a free-kick from wide on the left was played deep and appeared to be headed against the hand of Rickie Hayles.
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Mickey Parcell headed another cross clear, with Ellis Brown setting off down the right after a neat piece of skill, only to lose control midway through the Hereford half.
Some good footwork by Sam Higgins then found Liam Nash in space on the left and he fired across the box, but Brandon Hall smothered as Brown hoped to pounce on any loose ball.
Higgins was clattered by Jamie Grimes on halfway, and the pair would continue to battle throughout, but Brown’s pass for an overlapping Parcell was overhit.
Ryan Lloyd picked out Michael Bakare on the left and his cross was headed clear, before another chip into the six-yard box caused a moment of concern, before Urchins scrambled the ball away from danger.
Hereford had enjoyed more territory in the opening 10 minutes and won a corner when a shot from Owen-Evans deflected off Jordan Clark.
The set-piece was then played into the box quickly, in a set training ground move, and a first-time shot by Owen-Evans was deflected past Wright by a diving header from the unfortunate Higgins, as Parcell appealed for a foul by Grimes, with replays clearly showing he had been baulked as the ball was played into the box.
Referee Tony Harrington was unmoved - and with no VAR for this one the Hereford fans were able to celebrate their side taking the lead.
Good work by Remi Sutton and Lewwis Spence then found Christou, but his shot was blocked by Grimes, and Hornchurch were frustrated when Brown was bumped off the ball by Lewis Butroid, who then won a free-kick as the pair continued to battle for the ball close to the touchline.
Sutton was penalised for a late tackle on Kyle Finn midway through the half, giving Hereford a free-kick in a central position some 40 yards out, with Camwell delivering into the box for the pony-tailed Grimes to head weakly behind.
And a deep inswinging cross from the right by Finn was aimed at Butlin, but he headed wide under pressure from Parcell at the far post on 27 minutes.
Nash and Brown switched flanks, before Wright punched well clear from another Camwell free-kick, but Bakare then broke away from Hayles on the left and advanced towards the box, before floating the ball over the crossbar.
Spence’s challenge on Finn on halfway led to a stoppage for some treatment, allowing both sets of players to take on some liquids after a tense opening half-hour.
And Grimes was then left on his haunches after an aerial challenge from Higgins, as their battle continued, but Hereford continued to ask more of the questions in possession.
Christou, Higgins and Sutton combined well on the left, but the cross was over the head of Nash, although Parcell produced a thumping tackle on Butroid to win a throw-in and threw his arms up towards the fans at the other end of the stadium to raise the noise.
A long throw by Christou was headed away by Grimes and cleared downfield, but Hornchurch then got a chance to put some passes together in midfield, only to be sent backwards again.
Higgins tried to find Brown in the box with a dinked pass from the left, but it ran through to Hall once more, and Hereford worked the ball out to Butroid on the left, but his right-footed shot flashed high and wide towards the corner flag.
Hornchurch had a let-off shortly before the interval when Hayles was caught in possession by Butlin and shown a yellow card for hauling the striker over just outside the box and Camwell’s free-kick over the defensive wall had to be punched behind by Wright, scampering to his left, with the resulting corner skimming off the head of Haines and going behind.
Good work by Ollie Muldoon and Christou in a tight space helped the ball reach Brown on the left and he did well to stand up a cross to the far post, but Nash was unable to connect as a Bulls defender just got there beforehand.
Christou was then adjudged to have fouled Haines when fighting for the ball just inside the box, having seen a shot pushed over by Hall as the first half drew to a close. And when Higgins flicked on another Christou long throw-in, Brown could only divert it into the hands of Hall before the half-time whistle went.
The second half was less than a minute old when Parcell sent in a free-kick from the right and Higgins challenged Hall on the edge of the six-yard box, leaving the keeper needing some attention and referee Harrington issuing a warning to the Urchins striker and captain Spence.
Brown then won the ball on the left from opposite number Jared Hodgkiss and found Higgins, who fired towards the near post and saw Christou divert the ball just wide in front of the Hornchurch fans.
But Spence was then spoken to for a hefty tackle on Camwell in the centre circle and it took a timely intervention from Muldoon to cut out a dangerous ball from the left, before Owen-Eavans sent a speculative 25-yard attempt corkscrewing over the crossbar.
Finn and Hodgkiss combined well on the right for Hereford with a deep cross aimed at Bakare, but headed behind by the watchful Parcell on 54 minutes, with the tireless full-back alert to more danger at the far post from the ensuing corner.
Stimson sent Charlie Ruff and Chris Dickson on for Spence and Higgins on the hour mark in a bid to bolster the Hornchurch attack. It turned the game.
The two substitutes almost conjured up an equaliser moments later as Parcell’s deep cross found Dickson, who headed inside for Ruff to chest the ball and volley into the hands of Hall.
Ruff was on the ball again, trying to play in Brown, who won a free-kick wide on the left but when Muldoon’s delivery was cleared, Christou teed up Sutton who fired over from the edge of the box.
Hornchurch were looking more lively since the introduction of fresh legs, but Hayles was somewhat fortunate to escape a second yellow card for a foul on Owen-Evans midway through the half.
Another training ground move did not come off for Hereford and Urchins countered to win a set-piece of their own when Ruff was bundled off the ball. It came to nothing, though, as Muldoon played the ball to Parcell and his cross was cleared, but Christou then produced a driving run into the box, only to shoot into the side netting from a tight angle.
Then came a big chance as Parcell picked out Nash in the box and he flicked the ball past Hall, but saw Haines clear desperately off the line, before Brown flashed the ball across the face of goal.
And then it was all square as Christou’s long throw from the right flicked off the head of Haines, hit the crossbar and dropped down onto the shoulder of Ruff and across the line, despite the efforts of Hall to hack clear.
Hereford substitute James McQuilkin won a corner for his side soon after, with the ball dropping for Haines, who was crowded out by Parcell and other Hornchurch defenders.
And Bulls supporters were crying for a penalty when Hayles – now wearing the captain’s armband – and Butlin grappled for the ball, before Finn’s shot on the turn was deflected behind and Bakare headed over from McQuilkin’s corner.
Wright pinged a long kick out to Parcell, pushing up on the right again, to win Uchins a throw-in, with Jordan Clark doing great work to win the ball off Butroid to keep the pressure on Hereford’s defence.
And Urchins took the lead with four minutes to go when Ruff played a high ball in from the left touchline, Dickson nodded it back inside and Nash drove left-footed past Hall from close range.
Nash was booked for removing his shirt and then joined in the referee’s notebook by Ruff for kicking the ball away as Hereford were awarded a free-kick on halfway in the final minute of normal time.
A subsequent long throw from Haines was cleared and Brown ran to the corner flag at the start of six minutes of injury time, after man of the match Nash had made way for Charlie Stimson.
Hereford boss Josh Gowling had sent on Maziar Kouhyar and Yan Klukowski in two late changes of his own, but Urchins went 3-1 up when Dickson flicked the ball on at halfway and Brown got clear of Haines to squeeze the ball past Hall and into the net.
The 3,000 Hornchurch supporters - diehards and first-timers - were in dreamland and after a couple more minutes had ticked away, the party could begin.
Stimson's Urchins will be welcomed as heroes in all the town's pubs should they decide to take the trophy on a celebratory crawl.
Hornchurch: Wright, Parcell, Sutton, Clark, Hayles, Muldoon, Christou, Spence (Ruff 60), Higgins (Dickson 60), Nash (Stimson 90), Brown.
Unused subs: Thackway, Winn, Hassan, Cooper.
Hereford: Hall, Hodgkiss, Haines, Grimes, Camwell (McQuilkin 74), Butlin, Owen-Evans, Finn (Kouhyar 88), Lloyd, Bakare (Klukowski 90), Butroid.
Unused subs: White, Pollock, Digie, Jones.