Hornchurch edged out on Aveley’s historic night
PUBLISHED: 08:02 18 April 2017
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Aveley 1 Hornchurch 0
Hornchurch were edged out by a solitary Aveley goal on an historic night at Mill Field.
The 6.30pm kick-off meant all other matches in the division had already been played, and Hornchurch knew they needed to win to hold on to their third place in the table, and, more importantly, to a guaranteed home match in the play-off semi final.
As a result, the pressure was all on Hornchurch, and once Aveley took the lead the Urchins grew increasingly desperate in their efforts to pull the game back.
The bumpy pitch did little to encourage decent football, and the general flow of play was punctuated by a succession of free kicks, mainly against the home side, who also picked up six yellow cards, one of which resulted in a red for Joe Clark.
Aveley had the first scoring opportunity, but Michael Toner put his shot high and over the bar.
Hornchurch then proceeded to force the pace, with Leon McKenzie running on to a Sam Bantick pass but shooting wide of the post.
Lamar Johnson, in the home goal, created confusion in his own defence when he completely miskicked the ball on, but Abs Seymour could not take advantage from the loose ball, his cross going out of play.
Hornchurch won a series of corners, and when a half clearance fell invitingly in front of Elliot Styles, he placed his shot high over the bar.
Aveley rarely offered any threat, although Jerrimiah Maja sliced a shot wide, but the play was concentrated at the home side’s end of the field, where Abs Seymour gave the Millers defence more than a few worries with his inswinging corners, most of which were punched away by an overworked Johnson.
The Millers keeper was perhaps fortunate when he stuck out a leg to divert a Martin Tuohy shot around the post, and he then held on to a Bantick free kick.
At the other end Maja set up Ross Gleed but he volleyed high over the bar, before Aveley took the lead very much against the run of play.
Hornchurch’s defence failed to clear a free kick and the ball landed at the feet of Maja, whose hard shot eluded Sam Mott and went into the net for what turned out to be the only goal.
Johnson made another fine save, this time from Bantick before the break, after McKenzie had jumped over the ball as it came across from the left.
The second half was punctuated by free kicks, bookings, and stoppages due to minor injuries to Aveley players, and as time marched on, so Hornchurch grew increasingly ragged.
Aveley twice went close on breakaways, when a Mason Bloomfield shot was deflected for a corner and a Matt Mitchell centre met the same fate.
When Gary Cohen sent a long ball out to Tuohy, he centred towards the far post, but McKenzie sent his header narrowly past the post, and shortly afterwards Johnson saved well from Tuohy.
McKenzie had another attempt blocked, and the free kicks continued to mount up with the referee overworked on the bookings front.
With four minutes to go Joe Clark received his second yellow card of the night and Hornchurch threw everyone forward in the final stages.
Aveley’s last-ever match at Mill Field was prolonged by another eight mintues of stoppage time and, in the seventh of them, Johnson made the save of the match when he dived to deny Kenzer Lee, who had headed powerfully at goal from a George Purcell centre.
With that, the home side were able to celebrate victory on their last appearance at the ground, while Hornchurch now find themselves in fourth place and needing to win their last fixture of the season and hope other results go in their favour to secure a home play-off semi-final.
Hornchurch: Mott, Cohen (Purcell 73), Nesbitt (Cooper 73), Lee, Easterford, Styles, Bantick (Thompson 67) Chouman, McKenzie, Touhy, Seymour. Unused subs: Wall, Bentley.
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