Bostik North: Hornchurch 1 Potters Bar 0

PUBLISHED: 19:19 31 March 2018 | UPDATED: 19:22 31 March 2018

Kenzer Lee of Hornchurch scores the first goal for his team and celebrates (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Kenzer Lee of Hornchurch scores the first goal for his team and celebrates (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

©TGS Photo +44 1376 553468

Hornchurch took another big step towards promotion as Kenzer Lee’s first-half goal was enough to secure victory against rivals Potters Bar Town at Bridge Avenue and stretch their lead at the top of the table to 10 points.

The centre-back’s third goal of the season gave the Urchins the early lead following a goalkeeping error from Berkley Laurencin.

Hornchurch made three changes to the starting line-up following their defeat to Bowers & Pitsea last Friday with Nathan Livings, Olumide Oluwatimilehin and Theo Fairweather-Johnson dropping out entirely and replaced by Sean Roberts, Leon McKenzie and a first start for midfielder Connor Hogan.

Potters Bar made four changes from their victory over Ware on Tuesday night with Steve Brown, William Wambeek, Ismael Ehui and Ben Ward-Cochrane making way for captain Lee O’Leary, Michael Murray, James Budden and Eoin Casey.

The Urchins came out on top over the Scholars 2-1 in September with McKenzie and Fairweather-Johnson getting Hornchurch’s goals on that occasion. while Casey was on the scoresheet for the Scholars.

Hornchurch began the return game on the front foot and their fast start paid dividends after only six minutes.

George Purcell won a free kick on the edge of the penalty box after being pulled back by Andrew Lomas and stepped up to take the set-piece, with his driven effort fumbled by Laurencin for Lee to poke home the rebound within the six-yard box.

Hornchurch’s high pressing game never looked like letting up in the first half and Potters Bar struggled to get any passing rhythm going out of their own half, being left with little option but to continuously foul the home side out of frustration.

This persistent fouling lead to right-back Chris Doyle picking up a yellow card for a foul on Brad Warner by the halfway line.

Hornchurch looked dangerous on every attack but it was a Potters Bar counter-attack which lead to their best effort of the opening period.

Nathan Cooper clipped the heels of Town frontman Murray, whose lofted pass from the resulting free-kick was volleyed home by the outstretched Eoin Casey only for assistant referee Paul Agboola to raise his flag for offside.

Urchins never learnt their lesson as Potters Bar began getting themselves into the game more. Lee gave away another direct free-kick after swinging a leg at George Nicholas and Murray once again stepped up to take it, but his effort went sailing over Sam Mott’s crossbar.

Hornchurch attempted to regain the momentum and it almost worked as a lofted free-kick found Hogan on the right of the penalty area but his low driven cross found the gloves of Laurencin and he made no mistake in hanging on to the ball this time.

Potters Bar had the last attempt of the half as Alex Bentley was penalised for obstruction on Sandro Costa Dias Fernandes on the edge of the D.

But Murray’s effort again went over the crossbar meaning Hornchurch went into the break with a narrow lead.

The second half proved a scrappier affair with a lack of clear opportunities for both sides, although Hornchurch could have doubled their lead within the opening minute.

Purcell intercepted James Budden’s slack pass just outside of his own area but his left footed shot was straight at the keeper.

It took 67 minutes for Mott to make a save in the home goal after Murray did well to control the ball on his chest and turn to have a shot. But the effort was somewhat weak and Mott was comfortable in catching the ball low down.

Potters Bar looked to be gaining some momentum as they continued to go forward and a fierce 20-yard strike from Nicholas looked destined for the net only for the ball to catch Lee flush in the face.

The defender received some treatment but was fine to continue and Hornchurch substitutes Jamie Hursit, Christian Assombalonga and Dave Collis then combined cleverly to create a rare second-half chance.

Collis’ dinked pass found Assombalonga in the area and he laid the ball off for Hursit, only for him to fire high and wide.

The Scholars had a penalty appeal turned down late on as they looked to get something out of the game as Steve Brown’s effort was blocked by Lee and the Town dugout were left outraged as they believed the ball had hit the defender’s arm.

A corner was given instead and Hornchurch eventually managed to clear their lines, with just seven games remaining to secure promotion.

The result leaves Bar in third, level on points with Bowers & Pitsea, with both hoping to also go up this season.

Hornchurch head to Aveley’s Parkside ground on Easter Monday to take on Brentwood, while Bar visit Ware for a Herts derby.

Hornchurch: Mott, Bentley, Lee, Cooper, Porter, Styles, Hogan (Collis 82), Roberts (Hursit 73), Purcell, Warner (Assombalonga 76), McKenzie. Unused Subs: Joseph, Palmer.

Potters Bar Town: Laurencin, Doyle, Budden, Grace, O’Leary, Lawal (Brown 82), Nicholas (Adcock 76), Fernandes, Casey (Ward-Cochrane 65), Murray.

Unused Subs: Wambeek, Baird.

Attendance: 268.

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