AFC Hornchurch 1 – 1 Wealdstone
1 - 1
A strike from Richard Jolly saw Wealdstone take away a hard earned point from Essex side AFC Hornchurch on Saturday. It was imperative that Stones got something out of this encounter as they looked to eradicate the memories of the previous weekends FA Cup debacle.
After the Beaconsfield affair there were a number of changes in personnel, most notably a welcome return to the side for Chris O’Leary who returned to the starting line up after lengthy spell on the sidelines through injury, as well as an enforced recall to the first XI for Sean Cronin as Wealdstone looked to cope with the well known physical threat of The Urchins.
That physical presence was there for all to see early on as Hornchurch looked to bombard the Wealdstone box with a series of high balls. It was from one of these aerial raids that they created the first opening when after just two minutes Martin Tuohy headed over from close range.
As the half wore on both sides were cancelling each other out and finding it difficult to create chances, however the home side came within inches of taking the lead on 24 minutes when Frankie Curley saw his glancing header from a long throw fly just wide of the post.
Tuohy then came even closer for The Urchins, when after a defensive slip by Cronin the striker let fly with a 20 yard volley hich flew just wide of the upright with Jonathan North stranded.
Stones then enjoyed their best period of the first half in the closing moments. With three minutes left to play, a mazy run from Jake Parsons saw the midfielder tripped on the edge of the box. The resultant free kick from David Hicks arrowed in and appeared to strike a hand in the penalty area but the referee waved away protests from the Wealdstone players.
Hicks then had another chance from a free kick on the stroke of half time, hitting an effort from 25 yards which flew just wide.
The second half was a much more open affair, with Smith going close from a free kick early on for Hornchurch, before North did well at the other end to deny Michael Spencer.
The returning Chris O’Leary was winning vital headers at both ends of the pitch, and Urchins goalkeeper Joe Wooley had to be alert to palm away a header from the big midfielder after a Hicks corner.
Hornchurch took then took the lead on 67 minutes when a long ball from the back found its way to Martin Tuohy on the right hand side and he was able to find his strike partner Lewis Smith in the box, with Smith hitting a neat finish first time
The same player then came close to doubling his tally 6 minutes later, with North making a superb save low down to deny him. North’s outstanding stop was made all the more important when, from the resultant counter attack, Stones pulled themselves level; a long ball up field found from keeper North found Chris O’leary who nodded on to Jolly who, in turn, flicked the ball out to Scott McCubbin. McCubbin took the ball forward into the the box before dragging a left footed shot across the face of goal, which looked like it was going to bobble wide – that was until Richard Jolly showed the killer instinct which has seen him net so many over the years, racing in at the last moment to confidently bury the ball into the net.
The remaining 15 minutes were a tense affair which could have seen either side snatch all three points, with Cronin bravely blocking a goal bound effort from Tuohy, with Wealdstone also forcing a number of late corners at the other end.
Neither side could find a late winner and they had to settle for a share of the spoils. Next up for Wealdstone is a home game against Hendon on Monday night, kick –off 7.45.
Wealdstone: North, Hammond, Chappell, Cronin, Massey, Brooks, (Dyer 74), McCubbin, O’Leary, Parsons, Jolly, Hicks. Subs not used: Parker, Adjei, Jordan, Knight
By Stuart Warren