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Hornchurch take new year honours

PUBLISHED: 20:22 02 January 2016

Junior Luke slots home Hornchurch's second goal against Witham (pic: Ray Lawrence/TGSPHOTO)

Junior Luke slots home Hornchurch's second goal against Witham (pic: Ray Lawrence/TGSPHOTO)

©TGS Photo tgsphoto.co.uk +44 1376 553468

Ryman North: Hornchurch 2 Witham 0

Alex Bentley of Hornchurch cuts inside Paul White of Witham Town (pic: Ray Lawrence/TGSPHOTO)Alex Bentley of Hornchurch cuts inside Paul White of Witham Town (pic: Ray Lawrence/TGSPHOTO)

Two second-half strikes gave Hornchurch victory over Witham at Bridge Avenue and made it back-to-back wins in Ryman North.

Goals from George Purcell and substitute Junior Luke saw Urchins comfortably home and compensated for numerous unconverted chances during the first period.

The game began in lively fashion with opportunities at either end within minutes of the kick-off, the first falling to David Knight who dragged his one-on-one effort well wide after a lobbed through ball from Elliot Styles.

Hornchurch were nearly made to pay when a Witham free-kick produced a flurry of half-chances and was eventually struck over the bar by Lewis Francis.

Elliott Styles of Hornchurch competes for a header against Witham Town (pic: Ray Lawrence/TGSPHOTO)Elliott Styles of Hornchurch competes for a header against Witham Town (pic: Ray Lawrence/TGSPHOTO)

The home side gradually took control of proceedings and were left infuriated after Purcell’s penalty appeal was waved away, although the striker may have made more of the tackle than it merited.

Then came the best moment of the half as Leon McKenzie’s flicked header from a goal-kick found Purcell free on the right flank.

The striker’s cross left Witham keeper Harry Palmer stranded and needed only for the sliding Knight to tap the ball home, but he lifted his effort over the crossbar to the despair of the home fans.

For all of Hornchurch’s dominance, the hosts were unable to seriously test Palmer as Knight turned cleverly in the area only to see his shot deflected wide before McKenzie was unable to keep his header down from a Joey May delivery.

George Purcell of Hornchurch strikes at goal in the closing stages of their clash with Witham (pic: Ray Lawrence/TGSPHOTO)George Purcell of Hornchurch strikes at goal in the closing stages of their clash with Witham (pic: Ray Lawrence/TGSPHOTO)

Witham will have been the happier side at the interval with the game still goalless and having ridden their luck on several occasions, while being restricted mainly to speculative efforts from outside the area.

But the complexion of the game changed completely within two minutes of the restart when a May corner found Purcell emerging from the crowd and he steered the ball home via a deflection.

The move had clearly been conceived on the training ground and gave the home side a hard-earned lead and it also meant Witham’s attacking credentials would now be tested.

But the visitors often looked rushed on the ball and were once again limited only to long-range shots, primarily from the nimble Nathan Koranteng.

Urchins continued to search for the decisive second goal as Knight found Elliot Styles free in a central area outside the six-yard box and the captain forced a wonderful save out from Palmer low to his left which kept the visitors in the game.

But there was nothing the keeper could do moments later when Knight’s brilliant pass cut through the Witham defence to find Luke and he kept his cool with a delicately chipped finish on 73 minutes.

With Witham’s resolve broken, the home side continued to reign down on the opposition defence but Knight’s frustrating day in front of goal was summed up when he squandered his best opportunity in the half, blasting wide from just a few yards out.

Hornchurch remain in third place, four points behind new leaders Sudbury with a chance to reduce the gap when the sides face off in their next match on January 16.

Hornchurch: Mott, Coyne, Chouman, May (Collis 90), Cooper, Goodacre, Knight, Styles, McKenzie (Luke 67), Purcell, Bentley. Unused subs: Poku, Dove, Thompson.

Witham: Palmer, Cocklin, Hayes, Lemard (Pavett 80), Hunter, White (Payne 80), Koranteng, Bradford (Charles 69), Gayle, Watson, Francis. Unused subs: Osei, Cocklin.

Referee: Rob Hyde.

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