AFC Hornchurch 2 – 1 Wealdstone
2 - 1
It was an unhappy Bank Holiday Monday for Wealdstone, as they suffered a 2-1 defeat at AFC Hornchurch. This defeat will have hurt Wealdstone, as they must feel they did enough to at least take home a point, if not all three, but instead left Essex empty handed.
Stones made one change from Saturday’s comfortable win over Horsham, with Danny Burnell coming in for the injured Greg Ngoyi. There was also a place on the bench for fit again Callum Martin, who returns from a lengthy spell on the sidelines. The turning point in this match came mid way through the second half, when Hornchurch were awarded a contentious penalty, after Scott Fitzgerald had earlier put the visitors ahead. Before that, Wealdstone had looked comfortable enough, and the home side had rarely threatened Jonathan North’s goal.
Matters got off to a cagey start, with the home side looking to bounce back from back to back defeats, having the first chance early on when former Aveley marksman Martin Tuohy ran onto a flick from Leon Hunter, however he could only fire wide with North bearing down on him.
Stones then began to get a foothold on proceedings, with full backs Louis Lavers and Lee Chappell looking to overlap as much as possible. Chappell was also using his long throw to good effect, as the visitors went in search of the opener. Lavers almost gave Stones the lead on 12 minutes when he played a neat one two with Scott Fitzgerald, and then unleashed a shot with the outside of his foot, but he could only find the side netting.
Danny Burnell was looking to make an impression in the absence of Greg Ngoyi and came close to notching his first goal for Stones on the half hour mark, when his header from a Peter Dean cross was well saved by Hornchurch ‘keeper Ollie Morris-Sanders.
Hornchurch did have the ball in the net on 36 minutes, when the experienced Tommy Black side footed home from close range, only to see his effort ruled out for offside. From the resulting free kick Stones were able to mount a counter attack, and a swift flowing move saw Burnell presented with a chance, however he saw his shot saved by the legs of Morris-Sanders.
The Urchins finished the half with perhaps their best spell, forcing a number of corners, however Stones defended well and the sides went in level at the break.
The second half began at a much quicker pace than the first, with Wealdstone moving the ball around well, and almost being rewarded on 50 minutes when a slick passing move resulted in Fitzgerald hitting a powerful shot from a tight angle, which Morris-Sanders tipped over the bar. Wealdstone did take the lead from the resultant corner though. The Urchins defence could only half clear the ball, and Lavers was given another chance to put the ball across. He fired over a deep cross to the back post, which Scott Fitzgerald headed goal wards. A defender made a last ditch attempt to clear the ball off the line, however the linesman signalled a goal, much to the delight of the travelling Wealdstone fans.
Stones were now moving the ball around far more freely, and almost doubled their advantage on the hour, when Chappell played a neat pass into Fitzgerald. He held up the ball before laying it off to Kieron Forbes, whose well struck shot was saved low down by Morris-Sanders.
Hornchurch were level 10 minutes later however in controversial circumstances, when Chris O’leary was penalised for an infringement in the box, and Tommy Black stepped up to score the resulting penalty, sending North the wrong way.
The home side then took the lead two minutes later, when lax defending allowed Jo Flack to get to the by line and pull the ball back across for Leon Hunter to tap in from close range, despite the best efforts of the defending Kurtney Brooks.
Wealdstone looked shell shocked, and they tried to change things as they went in search of an equaliser, with the introduction of Danny Spendlove and Ryan Ashe, however it was to no avail, as Hornchurch defended compactly for remainder of the game, and were able to hang on for an unlikely victory.
Stones will be looking to bounce back strongly in this Saturday’s home clash with newly promoted Bury Town, kick off 3pm.
Wealdstone: North, Lavers, Chappell, Parker, Massey, Brooks, Dean, O’leary, Burnell, Fitzgerald, Forbes. Subs used: Spendlove, Ashe. Subs not used: Cronin, Martin, Thomas (GK)
By Stuart Warren