Hornchurch 0 – 0 Wealdstone
0 - 0
With the vital F A Cup tie against Aylesbury just days away manager Gordon Bartlett decided to shuffle his pack at the edges for this Ryman League game at the talented but as yet under-achieving Urchins. Greg Ngoyi had suffered a slight knock against Margate and was rested. In addition Ryan Ashe and Charlie Mpi were also given the less arduous task of sitting on the bench where they were joined by Chris Ellerbeck, Rob Fitzpatrick and Sam Beagle.
The forecast heavy rain and accompanying winds failed to reach East London and the match kicked off in near perfect conditions. The Urchins, a physically powerful side, were instantly up for the fight and to a man worked their socks off to deny The Stones any time or space on the ball. With ex- Harrow Borough player Jonathan Hunt orchestrating the midfield the home side enjoyed the greater possession and supplied lively forwards Joe Flack and Wayne Gray with plenty of service. But the Stones rearguard held firm and Sean Thomas was called upon to deal with little more danger then crosses and long range shots.
For their part the Stones sought to break quickly down the flanks with Kieron Forbes on the right and recalled Danny Spendlove on the left. It was Spendlove who posed the biggest threat but too often the final ball failed to cause sufficient danger. When delivery was right Jimmy Gray and Ross Lafayette found central defenders Elliot Styles and skipper John Purdie in uncompromising form. The two of them effectively snuffed out any danger down the centre for the entire match.
The second half saw little change in the play with the home side pressing forward and the Stones relying increasingly on making the most of their infrequent breaks. Darren Locke had aggravated an injury and was soon replaced by Rob Fitzgerald. On the hour manager Bartlett decide to change things and sent on Chris Ellerbeck for Lafayette and, soon after, Charlie Mpi for Jimmy Gray. In truth the pattern of the game was by then set and the Urchins stepped up their search for a winning goal. Having effectively stopped the Stones midfield operating with any purpose the Urchins put together periods of crisp, stylish football but the Stones defence dug in and successfully repelled any genuine danger.
And despite being under the cosh for major parts of the second half, the best chance fell to Wealdstone. A quick raid down the left ended in a fine, deep cross from Spendlove that a late arriving Kieron Forbes headed back across goal towards the far top corner of Darren Bechet’s goal, but the keeper brilliantly clawed the ball away for it to be cleared by his defenders.
This was a tough game. Hornchurch played well and in past seasons a Wealdstone team would most likely have caved in to a 1 or 2 nil defeat. But this side is made of sterner stuff and once again displayed a quality, sense of purpose and togetherness that has taken them to just one defeat in 15 games.
Team: Sean Thomas. Marvin McCoy, Lee Chappell, Darren Locke, Alan Massey, Mark E’Beyer, Kierin Forbes, Chris O’Leary, James Gray, Ross Lafayette, Danny Spendlove; subs Chris Ellerbeck, Charlie MPi, Ryan Ashe, Rob Fitzgerald, Sam Beagle