Hornchurch held as Witham hit back
PUBLISHED: 08:10 14 December 2016 | UPDATED: 08:10 14 December 2016
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Hornchurch 1 Witham Town 1
Hornchurch had to settle for a Ryman North point after being held by Witham at Bridge Avenue last night.
Urchins extended their unbeaten run to 11 matches in the process, but will consider it as two points lost as they fell further behind leaders Maldon.
George Purcell came into the starting line-up in place of Junior Luke and Hornchurch could have taken the lead in the second minute when Abs Thompson eluded three challenges and played the ball into the middle, where Jed Chouman’s shot was blocked by a defender.
Witham quickly replied, when Ryan Charles broke clear down the left wing and Alex Bentley reacted promptly to tackle at the cost of a corner.
It was Bentley who created a scoring chance at the other end, with a long centre which found Leon McKenzie, but the striker’s header went wide of the goal.
Chouman then fired a first-time volley wide, but a minute later Hornchurch took the lead.
Another rapid run by Thompson led to a corner when Alex Anderson deflected the cross behind and Purcell’s set-piece was headed goalwards and, although the attempt was saved, Ross Wall followed up to place the ball firmly into the net.
Four minutes later, JJ Da Cruz gained possession deep inside his own half and ran over 60 yards before firing his shot narrowly wide of the near post.
Witham slowly came into the game and a Nathan Koranteng run led to a corner and John Watson sent a shot from long range wide soon after.
The visitors forced the pace towards the interval and Nathan Cooper did well to deny Scott Kemp, with his timely tackle conceding a corner in the process.
Witham went close in the first minute of the second half too, with Kemp firing wide, and Hornchurch were forced to defend against a wave of Witham attacks for the next 10 minutes.
A long clearance out of defence gave Purcell a good run at goal, but Sam Soutar came out to narrow the angle and made an excellent save.
It was all square once again two minutes later, though, as Hornchurch were unable to clear a low cross from the left wing and Usman Adeniji stroked the ball into the net.
With Hornchurch having difficulty in breaking out of defence, Jim McFarlane made three substitutions and sent on Gary Coley, Ayrton Coley and James Morrish for Purcell, McKenzie and Ben Osman.
Urchins began to come more into the game, forcing Witham back on to defence, and Thompson, a constant threat on the right, made a penetrating run down the wing and cut inside, only to place his shot wide of the post.
The best Hornchurch chance of the half came when a Morrish free kick evaded Kenzer Lee and the ball fell invitingly in front of Da Cruz who, from very close range, scooped his shot over the bar.
Four minutes later, with Witham now hanging on, Soutar saved well from Chouman, and the final opportunity fell to Coley, who appeared to be held back by a defender before the ball was cleared.
Coley was booked for protesting that a free kick was not awarded, summing up Hornchurch’s frustrations on the night ahead of their long trip to struggling Wroxham on Saturday.
Hornchurch: Mott, Bentley, Da Cruz, Lee, Cooper, Chouman, Thompson, Osman (Morrish 65), McKenzie (coley 61), Wall, Purcell (Cohen 61). Unused subs: Styles, Hussain.