Bostik North: Bowers & Pitsea 1 Hornchurch 0
PUBLISHED: 21:45 23 March 2018 | UPDATED: 21:45 23 March 2018
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Hornchurch saw their lead at the top of the table cut to seven points by nearest rivals Bowers at the Len Salmon Stadium on Friday night.
A goal late in the first half from former Romford midfielder Jamie Dicks was enough to send Urchins to only their seventh loss in 38 league matches this season.
But they still have a game in hand on second-placed Bowers, with only a few weeks left in the season.
The visitors forced two early corners, which were both cleared, but David Knight went through and forced Sam Mott into a save, before noticing the linesman’s flagged had been raised.
Adalberto Pinto was booked for a foul on Brad Warner soon after, before Urchins forced a couple more corners, without finding a breakthrough.
George Purcell saw an effort drift behind midway through the first half, before Alex Bentley’s fantastic pass picked out Warner, who lifted the ball just over the crossbar.
And Urchins went close again when Purcell’s corner found Olumide Oluwatimilehin, whose header was superbly saved by Callum Chafer.
Purcell tried a speculative effort from 30 yards, which flew over the bar, before Bowers broke the deadlock six minutes before the break when Jamie Dicks turned and fired a low shot past Mott into the corner of the net for his eighth goal of the season.
Sean Livings was booked for a late challenge on goalscorer Dicks, before Knight sent a free-kick just past the post before the interval.
Livings made way for Leon McKenzie for the second half and Urchins had a chance to get back on terms before the hour mark when Purcell spun in the box, only to fire over from eight yards.
Warner fired a free-kick over the crossbar on the hour, but Bowers went close when Knight’s free-kick to the far post was headed back across goal by Lewis Manor, just beyond the reach of captain Martyn Stokes.
A Purcell corner was then headed wide by Kenzer Lee midway through the half, before the club’s all-time leading goalscorer was replaced in a double change along with Oluwatimilehin with a quarter of an hour remaining, with Tobi Joseph and Sean Roberts coming on.
But Hornchurch needed a superb save from Mott to keep out a free-kick from former team-mate Knight with nine minutes remaining and the keepeer also smothered an effort from Manor, after he swapped passes with Ben Sartain.
Ellliot Styles sent a hopeful effort well wide in the second minute of stoppage time as Bowers held on to their lead to keep their faint title hopes alive.
Urchins must now wait until they return to action on Saturday week (March 31) when they welcome Potters Bar to Bridge Avenue.
Hornchurch: Mott, Bentley, Porter, Lee, Cooper, Styles, Livings (McKenzie 46), Oluwatimilehin (Roberts 75), Warner, Purcell (Joseph 75), Fairweather-Johnson. Unused subs: Assombalonga, Hursit.
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