Hornchurch sink Soham, climb to second

PUBLISHED: 21:43 23 January 2016 | UPDATED: 21:43 23 January 2016

Junior Luke was on target for Hornchurch against Soham Town (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)

Junior Luke was on target for Hornchurch against Soham Town (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)

Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO c/o 27 Plaiters Way, Braintree, Essex, CM7 3LR - Editorial Use ONLY - FA Premier League and Football League

Ryman North: Hornchurch 2 Soham Town 1

George Purcell of Hornchurch fires a free kick at goal (pic: Ray Lawrence/TGSPHOTO)George Purcell of Hornchurch fires a free kick at goal (pic: Ray Lawrence/TGSPHOTO)

Hornchurch returned to winning ways in Ryman North with a laboured victory over Soham Town Rangers at Bridge Avenue.

Deflected strikes from George Purcell and Junior Luke either side of a Craig Hammond leveller proved enough to seal the three points for Urchins, following their draw at leaders Sudbury last weekend.

And victory allowed Jimmy McFarlane’s men to climb into second place above Cray Wanderers, following their surprise loss at Waltham Abbey.

Hornchurch threatened from the start as a neat lay-off from Leon McKenzie found Purcell on the edge of the area and he fired over after just two minutes.

The in-form striker was celebrating moments later, though, when his drilled free-kick took a wicked deflection off the Sohom wall to beat the wrong-footed George Lawton and give the home side an early lead and take him level with Alan Noonan on 94 career goals for the club.

Urchins controlled much of the play thereafter, but they were often guilty of allowing Soham too much time on the ball without the away side able to create any clear-cut chances.

McKenzie had a decent opportunity to put in team-mates left and right before seeing the first of several long-range efforts easily saved by Lawton.

But a goal from nowhere on 32 minutes had Rangers back on level terms when George Darling’s speculative strike from outside the area was palmed by Sam Mott into the path of Hammond who rifled home to leave the Bridge Avenue faithful reeling.

The equalising goal gave a confidence boost to the visitors and Ross Paterson’s cross flashed dangerously in front of goal before Luke Chadwick managed to get his shot on target moments later only to see it smothered by Mott.

Paul Goodacre had a decent chance from an Urchins’ free-kick, but headed a yard wide as the game reached half-time with one fan suitably describing the home side’s performance as ‘a bit flat’.

The restart began in far more positive fashion for Hornchurch with Luke moved into a more advanced position on the right to accommodate the substitution of David Knight.

An excellent piece of hold-up play from McKenzie released Alex Bentley on the left flank and he moved the ball quickly into the feet of Purcell before the striker blasted well over with team-mates lined up in the centre to receive a cross.

Urchins were beginning to keep the ball much better and Jed Chouman might think we should have buried his chance after meeting Billy Coyne’s cross six yards out on the half-volley at the end of one particularly well-crafted move.

Another ambitious strike from McKenzie was once again easily stopped by Lawson before Purcell forced an acrobatic save from the Rangers gloveman with his forceful long-range effort heading for the top-right corner.

Eventually the prolonged pressure did pay off on 67 minutes when McKenzie fed Luke on the flank before the winger cut inside, firing into the back of the net with the help of what appeared to be a second deflection of the afternoon.

The hosts had an opportunity to extend their lead shortly after when Chouman’s header from a corner was cleared desperately off the line to leave Soham still searching for something out of the game.

This cleared the way for a frantic finish with refereeing decisions being fervently challenged by both dugouts.

Marcus Hall looked like he may have had a case for a penalty when his shirt was allegedly pulled in the area with only minutes remaining, but Soham’s appeals were waved away.

And Paterson had apowerful shot well saved by Mott in added time as Hornchurch did enough to maintain their lead before breathing a sigh of relief at the final whistle.

McFarlane’s men will hope for an improved performance when Bridge Lane welcomes Tilbury on Tuesday.

Hornchurch: Mott, Chouman, Luke, May (Collis 84), Cooper, Goodacre, Knight (Coyne 46), Styles, McKenzie, Purcell, Bentley (Thompson 78). Unused sub: Dove.

Soham Town: Lawton, Swinton, Townshend, Lawton, Gent, Sharman, Bexfield (Russell 80), Chadwick, Hammond (Relizani 70), Darling (Hall 63), Paterson Unused subs: Chizari, Theobald.

Referee: John O’Brien.

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