Another good night at Aveley for Hornchurch
PUBLISHED: 09:00 23 August 2016
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Urchins supporters enjoy FA Cup success at Mill Field
Aveley might well hope that this will be the final season at their Mill Field headquarters, although the construction of the new ground, just off the once-rural Aveley by-pass, is still in the very early stages.
But in the meantime, Hornchurch seem to be making the most of playing at the current ground, after making our third visit of the season.
Having already played Grays and Billericay there in the pre-season, we went back on Friday night, along a rain-soaked Hacton Lane, for the ‘real thing’, the FA Cup match against Aveley.
In difficult conditions - a strong downfield wind and a pitch that already has signs of overuse - it was perhaps predictably a close encounter.
But although Aveley had to defend for long periods, Hornchurch missed several chances and it began to look as though one goal would settle it.
And that is exactly what happened, but it was totally unexpected as Abs Thompson had only been on the field three minutes, when he chased a long back pass to the home keeper, who was not allowed to pick up the ball, but who seemed to have plenty of time to kick clear.
Thompson had other thoughts and his excellent sliding tackle took the ball into the net for the only goal of the match.
Hornchurch had a couple of scares at their own end of the field as an Abs Seynour free kick in the first half dipped late and rattled the crossbar, and with just a few seconds remaining in second half stoppage time a long throw from former Urchin Billy Coyne found Emmanuel Ighorae, but he blazed his shot high and over the bar.
Hornchurch picked up £1,925 in prize money for the win, mere pocket money for Premier League clubs who think nothing of paying multi-millions for players, but for clubs like ours, it was money that was most welcome.
Urchins supporters at the Aveley game complained about the lack of matchday programmes after latecomers - and not-so-latecomers - all discovered the programmes had been sold long before the kick off, due to a combination of what appears to be a low print run, and also due to ‘groundhoppers’, who bought ‘multiple copies’, according to the programme seller.
Groundhoppers usually will only go to a ground once andare unlikely to want to go back again, as they go to ‘collect’ the ground, rather than to watch the match. Each to their own, but perhaps clubs should restrict programme sales to one per person, to give regular supporters a chance to read about their local club.
The switch to Friday night for the match was not popular with Hornchurch supporters, but it produced a much higher than usual attendance for Aveley. In contrast, on the Saturday, Grays entertained Bognor before a crowd of only 127, so financially the switch made sense.
Hornchurch now travel to Rushden & Diamonds for the next round, although the match will be played at the Dog and Duck in Wellingborough, as the hosts are homeless and are being forced to ground share.
The Dog and Duck is the name of the Wellingborough ground, and also the name of the local pub outside the ground.
Jim McFarlane no doubt went to Wellingborough on Saturday to watch the Diamonds in action, when they beat Northampton Sileby Rangers by 4-3.
Sileby took the lead after nine minutes, but Diamonds drew level on the half hour with a penalty by Nabil Sharif, who then scored twice more as half time approached to claim a first-half hat-trick.
Diamonds scored again 10 minutes after the interval with a speculative shot from Liam Dolman which caught the home defence by surprise, only for Sileby to hit back strongly with two goals inside five minutes, to set up a tense conclusion to the match.
Hornchurch have no game in midweek and we now look forward to our next match, at Bowers & Pitsea on Saturday.
We last travelled to Bowers on Guy Fawkes Day in 2005, and came away with a one-goal win, thanks to a goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time from Rikki Burbridge.
The last time we played Bowers was at home in the Essex Senior Cup, three seasons ago, and only two players, Elliot Styles and George Purcell, remain from the team that won 5-1.
Styles put Hornchurch ahead after an own goal had cancelled out a Bowers opener and Purcell scored twice as the other goal came from Joey May.
Whilst McFarlane was checking out the opposition at the Dog and Duck, some Hornchurch supporters were at a loose end on Saturday and found themselves at Cricklefield, where Ilford were at home to Felixstowe & Walton Utd in the FA Cup.
There was a near-gale blowing downfield and visiting goalkeeper Danny Crump was forced to tip a throw from Ryan Parker-Francis over the bar early on.
Long throws are not unusual in today’s game, but this one was hurled goalwards from close to the halfway line and the keeper had no choice other than to touch it over, as it would otherwise have rebounded back off the bar with two very eager home forwards waiting in anticipation.
In the next few minutes, Parker-Francis took all of Ilford’s throws, and the visitors defended five such set-pieces, before settling down and coming strongly back into the game.
After several near misses at both ends, Felixstowe took the lead on 39 minutes, when a long free-kick from out on the left eluded everyone in the swirling wind, with Josh Kerridge the scorer.
Ilford had enjoyed much of the attacking play in the first half and were unfortunate to go in a goal down, but the second half was a different story, with Felixstowe having the wind in their favour.
Crump could have scored when his high clearance bounced over Ilford keeper Chris Clark, but also over the bar, and Clark made excellent saves from Craig Jennings and Chris Williams.
Ilford twice went close to levelling, before Williams wrapped things up for Felixstowe when he followed up a left-wing shot which could only be parried by Clark in the final minute.
There then followed seven minutes of stoppage time, during which the referee had to sort out a mass confrontation at the Felixstowe end of the pitch.
In what was an end-to-end match, that either team could have won, nine players were booked, including goalkeepers, one for dissent, and the other, somewhat harshly, for time wasting.