Hornchurch 1 Enfield Town 2
Report from Andrew Warshaw
Forget about the few chances to either side. Forget about lack of entertainment value.
Make no mistake, this was a potentially landmark victory against a side who had gone 16 games without defeat – including 13 wins – and was reward for an all-round team performance which, without getting carried away, represents a huge confidence boost going into our final eight league games.
The fact that our top-five rivals hadn’t lost since November – against us, no less, in the corresponding fixture – says everything about the result in what was a tight, often physical game which, for long periods, we managed to slow down and control at our own pace.
Wearing our yellow and blue strip, which seemed somewhat appropriate given events unfolding in Ukraine, we were without the unavailable Lyle Della-Verde but were otherwise close to full strength with Manny Maja especially eye-catching in midfield with a series of timely interceptions.
After a cautious opening by both sides we took the lead with one of the strangest goals you will ever see.
Lee Chappell decided to go short with a throw-in and Maja’s 40-yard floated cross totally deceived former Towner Joe Wright, who for some reason declined to wear a cap despite having the sun in his eyes and didn’t even move. He apparently didn’t even see it.
Lewis Taaffe needed lengthy treatment after a strong challenge from Tom Wraight who then did the same to Sam Youngs without being booked.
As halftime approached, Wraight curled an effort wide but the hosts, last season’s FA Trophy winners, had hardly had a first-half shot on target.
The Urchins were almost back in it straight after the break as Charlie Ruff brought a superb save from Nathan McDonald and headed the resultant corner over.
Ryan Kirwin and Mo Faal were the next two victims of rough play with no action taken by the referee and right on the hour Hornchurch broke through to equalise. Micky Parcell, another former Towner, was given too much space on the right-hand side and his cross was headed home by Wraight.
Despite the disappointment there was no sense of panic as we continued to execute our game plan. Taaffe almost squeezed the ball home at the near post and on 66 minutes we restored our lead as Adam Cunnington (pictured) headed a Taaffe corner low and hard into the corner through a ruck of players.
This time, there was no Hornchurch comeback as we held firm at the back and cleared our lines at every opportunity. The only downside was a straight red card in stoppage time for substitute Jack Cass who had come off the bench to replace Mo and now misses three crucial fixtures.
Whilst Jake’s challenge on Parcell was late, the Hornchurch defender was ever so quickly up his feet and given what had gone before to our own players, the referee’s decision seemed questionable to say the least.
However, onwards and upwards. Eight games to go and the playoffs loom ever closer.
“A proper team performance against a strong Hornchurch team” was how Andy Leese summed up matters. “We had a plan which the players executed. We had to defend under pressure late the game but we do that better with Manny back in the team. The result keeps us in the mix but that’s all it does at this stage.”
McDonald; Chappell, Bray, Gyebi, Kirwan; Youngs, Maja, Thomas, Taaffe (Kiangebeni, 84); Faal (Cass, 75) , Cunnington