Wealdstone 1 – 0 AFC Hornchurch
1 - 0
AFC Hornchurch arrived at The Vale on Tuesday evening on the back of a rich vein of form, expecting to press their realistic claim for a coveted play off place. But Stones are in a decidedly defiant mode these days and clearly had other ideas. A lone Ryan Ashe goal scored virtually from kick -off and outstanding defending throughout ensured that it was the home side that collected all the points on offer.
Wealdstone were largely unchanged with only Danny Spendlove not involved; David Hicks, who looks reborn since his return from loan at Chesham United, claimed the No 11 shirt. Carl Martin’s rest period continued with Marvin McCoy capably filling the right back position. Davis Haule resumed up front with Greg Ngoyi.
Stones continued where they left off at Staines and looked up for the battle playing with an aggressive tempo, taking the game by the scruff of the neck. After only two minutes play Davis Haule received the ball on the left and whipped in a superb cross that invited the onrushing Ryan Ashe to power an unstoppable header past startled Urchins keeper, Darren Behcet.
A very lively start then that set the tone for the rest of the first period with Stones aggressively pressing the ball all over the park. David Hicks is certainly adding fresh impetus to the midfield with some skilful play complimenting the tough Chris O’Leary with the deftness of Ashe and the tireless running of Keiron Forbes.
The speedy Ngoyi was presented with a decent chance early on and his ground shot was well saved by Behcet, The game began to settle in a pattern whereby Stones were setting the pace with Hornchurch being forced to keep the ball moving and smashing it up the slope to prevent the home side from finding space to turn.
Hicks crossed well for a James Gray header that was saved; Ashe then scooped a shot over from a tight angle following an excellent flowing move involving 5 players – McCoy joining the attack effectively.
Skipper Gray was yellow carded for a professional foul that stopped a rare Urchins break through the middle that looked threatening.
Alan Massey was outstanding all night at centre half and continually got in front of his man – but must have a severe headache with the amount of ball won in the air.
Stones picked up the pace again at the turnaround and it was more of the same as the rain came down and conditions against the increasing wind now favoured Hornchurch.
Referee Colin Lymer became fussier with his free kick policy and the games flow became interrupted with Stones being continually penalised. Free kick after free kick was conceded to the Urchins but great aerial defending by Massey, Gray and O’Leary repelled an increasingly urgent away side.
With 20 minutes left on the clock the Urchins finally realised the game was slipping away and put Stones under some serious pressure as the Blues seemed to flag a little.
Kris Lee shot across goal when well placed and then blasted over from another good position. All three substitutes had now been used by AFC in an attempt to change the pattern in their favour.
Pivotally, with 7 minutes to go, Marvin McCoy brilliantly headed off the line with Sean Thomas beaten and this proved to be the Urchins best chance to draw level. But the pressure was still very much on as 4 minutes added time was announced.
Stones sub Ben Clarke provided some eager fresh legs to ease the strain, the clock was run down and the points were finally in the bag.
Two more home games on the trot, Horsham on Saturday (2pm ko) and Ashford the following Tuesday – two more wins and a bid for Premier survival could just turn into something more exciting to contemplate!
Wealdstone: Thomas, McCoy, Chappell, Gray, Massey, Ashe, Forbes, O’Leary, Haule, Ngoyi, Hicks. Sub used: Clarke, N/u: Jones, Locke, R Hicks, Woods (GK)