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Last-gasp Leon saves Hornchurch

PUBLISHED: 07:55 22 December 2015 | UPDATED: 07:55 22 December 2015

Leon McKenzie scores the equalising goal for Hornchurch and celebrates against Thamesmead (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)

Leon McKenzie scores the equalising goal for Hornchurch and celebrates against Thamesmead (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)

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Ryman North: Thamesmead 1 Hornchurch 1

Elliot Styles of Hornchurch tangles with Prescott Lee of Thamesmead (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)Elliot Styles of Hornchurch tangles with Prescott Lee of Thamesmead (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)

Leon McKenzie’s injury-time equaliser spared Hornchurch from defeat in their final outing before Christmas last night.

Jimmy McFarlane’s promotion hopefuls looked to be heading to a disappointing defeat after Paul Vines put Mead ahead midway through the second half.

But McKenzie came to the rescue in the fifth minute of stoppage time, heading in a cross from Alex Bentley to ensure a share of the festive spoils.

McFarlane made one change to his starting line-up from Saturday’s 2-0 win over Waltham Abbey, with Jed Chouman coming in for Junior Luke.

Nathan Cooper goes close to a goal for Hornchurch against Thamesmead (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)Nathan Cooper goes close to a goal for Hornchurch against Thamesmead (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)

And the visitors had a great chance inside the first minute, but David Knight saw his attempted lob saved by Andy Walker.

George Purcell volleyed wide from Bentley’s pass on 11 minutes and rattled the post with a free-kick eight minutes before the break.

Urchins made a bright start to the second half, with Purcell creating a chance for Knight, but Walker saved well.

But the home side came into it more and Sam Mott was forced to make a good save on 51 minutes, before another chance was dragged wide of the target soon after.

Paul Vines of Thamesmead scores the opening goal against Hornchurch (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)Paul Vines of Thamesmead scores the opening goal against Hornchurch (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)

Hornchurch were a whisker away from breaking the deadlock just before the hour when McKenzie flicked the ball over Walker but saw it evade the desperate lunge of Nathan Cooper as it slid behind.

Mott made two more good saves, either side of Purcell firing over the crossbar, but was beaten on 66 minutes when Vines headed in at the near post from a corner.

And when captain Elliot Styles fired wide in the last minute of normal time it looked like Hornchurch would be heading back home empty-handed, but they kept pushing and got their reward when McKenzie nodded in from Bentley’s centre.

Hornchurch, who sit in third place and are seven points behind leaders Cray with a game in hand, head to Great Wakering Rovers on Monday.

Hornchurch: Mott, Coyne, Chouman, May, Cooper, Goodacre, Knight (Poku 83), Styles, McKenzie, Purcell, Bentley. Unused subs: Collis, Dove, Thompson.

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