Urchins suffer defeat at Stortford after another own-goal
PUBLISHED: 21:01 03 November 2018 | UPDATED: 21:01 03 November 2018
Bostik Premier: Bishop’s Stortford 1 Hornchurch 0
Hornchurch suffered a frustrating defeat in the Bostik Premier after going down 1-0 at Bishop’s Stortford this afternoon.
An own-goal at the end of the first half was the difference between the teams in the end, although Urchins boss Jimmy McFarlane would have been left wondering how his side didn’t find the net in Hertfordshire.
The Blues defended impressively throughout, but the visitors had enough chances to pick up a point and were left to rue another player putting through his own net after Leon Smith had scored an own-goal during Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Merstham.
McFarlane made two changes to the side which was held in the week as Jordan Clark missed out through injury while Lewwis Spence dropped to the bench.
This saw Alex Bentley move forward from left-back into the centre of midfield and partner the incoming Connor Hogan while Jamie Hursit returned to the starting XI and featured on the left side of a back four still missing captain Nathan Cooper.
Stortford, who had interim player-manager Jamie Cureton leading the line, had the first opportunity of the match.
Urchins defender Smith didn’t listen to the call from goalkeeper Callum Chafer and his clearing header was poor, and went straight to Luke Callander.
The former Heybridge Swifts attacker didn’t need an invitation to let fly, but he saw Hornchurch’s talented young stopper parry his effort wide in the eighth minute.
It didn’t take the visitors long to regroup and threaten themselves, seven minutes later, when Sean Marks flicked the ball on and George Purcell tried his luck from a tight angle, but fired into the side-netting.
After a scrappy start, Hornchurch were starting to take the ascendancy and almost took the lead in the 25th minute.
Jay Porter’s cross from the left found Leon McKenzie in the area and his header back across goal was going in before Calum Kitscha tipped onto the crossbar.
Hornchurch’s Purcell was alive to the loose ball, but so was Stortford’s goalkeeper as he got up quickly and blocked behind for a corner.
The onslaught wasn’t over, though, as from Purcell’s set-piece, Hogan headed wide of the home goal.
Seconds later and McFarlane’s team threatened again as a long ball forward tempted Kitscha to come, but McKenzie got there first, yet he could only flick wide from 20-yards from a difficult position.
After going so close to the opener, Urchins found themselves on the back foot just past the half an hour mark.
Firstly Nick Brown did well on the left and his cross-cum-shot forced Chafer into a decent save, but the ball come for right-back Ben Sampayo and his low effort needed to be stopped by the away custodian.
The pressure continued with Callander firing wide in the 36th minute on the volley as the Blues looked to win back a stranglehold of the contest.
Despite it being November, the sun was shining and the temperature was a mild 12 degrees as the first half drew to a close.
Urchins had edged the opening exchanges, but Stortford were growing in confidence now and Cureton’s cross called Chafer into action in the 41st minute.
While Hornchurch survived that attack from the hosts, they were not so fortunate the next time Blues attacked less than 60 seconds later.
A short corner caught the visitors’ cold and Ryan Charles dribbled past Hursit far too easily and his low cross was saved well by Chafer, but the ball deflected in thanks to a combination of Urchins midfielder Hogan and Stortford ace Johnville Renee.
It was harsh on McFarlane’s men, who had enjoyed a bright start to the game, but at half time, they trailed at the ProKit UK Stadium by a single goal.
With injured players Cooper, Clark, Nathan Livings and Nana Boakye-Yiadom all in attendance to support the team, Hornchurch were desperate to find a way back into the contest after the restart.
A long range effort by Marks in the 47th minute, which sailed wide, signalled the intentions of the away side as the sun began to set and a cold, chilly wind engulfed the ground.
The start of the second period was disrupted somewhat by bad tackles from Urchins’ Smith and Stortford’s Brown in the space of a few seconds, although bizarrely neither were punished with a card by referee David Harrison.
Eventually Blues began to get on top again and went close in the 54th minute when a corner was cleared back to Brown and he let fly from 25-yards.
Fortunately for Hornchurch, Chafer got down low to save well and he parried away from Cureton, who was waiting to pounce.
Yet in a flash, the Bridge Avenue club responded with Brad Warner producing some magic on the right.
He cut inside Chris Gregan and then checked back before delivering a wonderful cross into the area, but Marks headed wide in the 55th minute.
McFarlane had seen enough and introduced youngster George Saunders three minutes later with Marks making way and Urchins switching to a 4-3-3 formation.
Blues reacted with Alfie Mason coming on for Callander, who had caused problems for Smith and the excellent Kenzer Lee.
Substitute Mason almost had an immediate impact as his cross in the 68th minute had to be headed clear by Hursit with Cureton lurking at the back post.
Hornchurch centre back Lee tested Kitscha soon after, but his header from Purcell’s free kick was bread and butter for the home custodian.
Chances were beginning to become more frequent now and Stortford nearly made it 2-0 in the 71st minute.
First Brown was denied by Chafer from 18-yards and then from the rebound, veteran Cureton attempted a scissor kick which hit the crossbar and bounced over.
Stortford had gone so close to doubling their advantage, but seconds later Warner cut in from the left and tested Kitscha with a curling effort.
More substitutions were made after with Spence coming on for Hornchurch and the Blues replacing Brown with Jordan Wescott.
Urchins did have the ball in the net with 13 minutes left after McKenzie volleyed in from Bentley’s cross, but the offside flag was up and the celebrations from the away faithful behind the goal were cut short.
Soon after and more Hornchurch pressure occurred when Purcell slipped through left-back Porter and despite Sampayo’s best efforts to bring him down, the away defender stayed on his feet and saw a shot blocked behind for a corner.
From the resulting set-piece, Saunders’ delivery was headed back across goal by Smith, but Stortford survived.
The final roll of the dice from McFarlane was to bring on new recruit Bode Anidugbe in the 81st minute after he joined late this week from Thamesmead Town.
As the seconds ticked away, Hornchurch continued to press, but the hosts defence, to their credit, dealt with crosses into the area manfully.
Stortford nearly put the game to bed with 86 on the clock, however, as they made the most of the visitors throwing men forward.
Centre back Smith impressively won a 50-50 tackle with Charles, but Cureton latched onto the loose ball and raced through on goal.
With only Chafer to beat, the experienced forward unselfishly squared for sub Mason, but the youngster lost his footing slightly and scuffed wide with the goal gapping.
It was the perfect opportunity for the hosts to wrap up the points, but they failed to take it and the game was still very much alive.
When the fourth official signalled for five minutes of stoppage time, loud groans were heard from the Stortford crowd.
A wonderful ball by Saunders seconds into the time added on should have resulted in a chance for a Hornchurch player, but no one got on the end of his terrific centre.
Kitscha was called into action seconds later as substitute Anidugbe let fly from range and Hursit then headed well wide from a good position in the area.
Urchins were trying everything and in the 95th minute Warner’s dangerous cross was sliced towards his own goal by home captain Sam Robbins, but goalkeeper Kitscha got down well to claim.
It proved the final opportunity of the match as the full time whistle was blown soon after to hand Hornchurch a fourth league loss of the campaign.
After creating a number of chances, McFarlane’s men would have been frustrated to make the trip back home via the M11 pointless.
Hornchurch have dropped from 11th to 13th in the table now and next up for them is an Essex Senior Cup clash at home to Benfleet on Tuesday night.
Bishop’s Stortford: Kitscha; Sampayo, Robbins ©, Henshaw, Gregan; Brown (Wescott 75), Thomas, Renee, Charles; Cureton, Callander (Mason 64).
Unused substitutes: Nkosi, Crowther, Miles.
Hornchurch: Chafer, Hursit, Smith, Lee, Porter (Anidugbe 81); Hogan (Spence 74), Bentley ©; Warner, Purcell; McKenzie, Marks (Saunders 58).
Unused substitutes: Coker, Fairweather-Johnson.