Enfield Town 1 Hornchurch 1
Report by Andrew Warshaw
What a fine advertisement this was for Step 3 football. Two teams going for it, individual battles all over the pitch, Town brave on the ball and in the end the points shared.
In terms of our run-in, it was extremely heartening, the only slight frustration being we couldn’t quite get the win against the league leaders.
The game plan, however, worked extremely well with two holding midfielders to close down space that might otherwise have been exploited by Hornchurch, combined with a counter-attacking system in which Andre Coker, especially, excelled.
Controlling the tempo of the game and matching our high-flying opponents augers well for what is in a sense an even bigger game on Saturday against Cray, the nearest play-off challengers below us who are now four points behind.
In what was effectively our game in hand – twice previously postponed due to the big freeze and county cup games – the rain that lashed down prior to kick-off thankfully survived a pitch inspection.
Town rewarded James Dayton for his excellent display against Herne Bay with a place in the starting line-up while Adam Cunnington was selected up top alongside Jake Cass.
Town started on the front foot and Tom Wraight was booked for a late challenge on Sam Youngs. After 11 minutes, a 25-yard Joe Payne freekick couldn’t have got much closer as it skimmed the top of the bar.
Payne was then called into action at the other end as he somehow cut out Liam Nash’s first-time shot.
Next came a chance for the visitors’ Jordan Clark who found space on the edge of the box but thankfully placed his shot too close to Nathan McDonald.
As the end to end action continued, McDonald dropped on the ball in a goalmouth scramble whilst for the Town James Richmond saw his goalbound header cleared away.
James Dayton went into the book for a foul on Sam Higgins but on 37 minutes Coker produced a moment of magic, turning inside his marker before lashing a shot goalwards, only for Joe Wright – one of three ex-Towners in a red shirt – to turn it aside.
Hornchurch appeals for a Lewis Knight handball went unheeded and as half time approached, so both goals came – within 30 seconds of each other.
First, Nash converted a Clark cross from the left but before Hornchurch could celebrate, we equalised straight from the restart.
Johnville Renee, who spent most of the evening looking after chief dangerman Ade Youssef, made a rare foray forward, exchanged passes with Coker and fired home (Pictured).
Not surprisingly, given the frantic pace of a breathless opening 45 minutes, there was a quieter start to the second period which brought two more yellow cards, firstly for former Towner Mickey Parcell and then Lewis Knight.
Urged on by the 600-plus crowd, we kept probing and midway through the half Coker broke clear but was stopped by a fine Rickie Hayles tackle. At the other end Richmond did brilliantly to fend off Yusuff.
With 15 minutes left, we made a double change – Khale Da Costa replacing James Dayton and Lyle Della-Verde for the tiring Coker.
Della-Verde was quickly involved with a pair of freekicks centrally placed just outside the area.
Against most opponents, at least one of them would have gone in. But Hornchurch had done their homework and both efforts were headed off the line by another former Towner, Remi Sutton, though from the second one – in the final minute of normal time — Cunnington so nearly converted the rebound to win the game, Joe Wright coming to the rescue.
Seven minutes earlier, Hornchurch themselves might have snatched a late advantage when Higgins, taking advantage of the offside flag inexplicably staying down, shot towards the far corner, only for McDonald to thankfully save with an outstretched leg.
It was that kind of game but the fact that we had double the shots on target says much about how we performed and Andy Leese was delighted.
“I thought we were excellent,” said Andy. “Probably a spell in the first half where we lost our way a little but the second half I thought we dominated. Really heartened by today’s performance: disciplined, battling. We just lacked a little bit of quality at times but generally really pleased.”
McDonald; Renee, Knight, Richmond, Payne; Taaffe, Youngs, Dayton (Da Costa, 74), Coker (Della Verde, 74); Cunnington, Cass