Hornchurch vs Cray Wanderers – Isthmian Premier – Saturday 24th September
Higgins 17, 85
Cray Wanderers 1
Cray Wanderers went down to their second straight league defeat but produced a very good performance against league leaders Hornchurch who won the match with two quality strikes from Sam Higgins with the winner coming five minutes from time.
After a quiet start, Hornchurch went ahead when Higgins swept home an Ola Ogunwamide cross in the 17th minute. Cray hung in the game after Shaun Rowley made two important saves and drew level four minutes before half time when Dan Bassett held off Wyan Reid to score his fifth goal of the season from 12 yards. Cray had defended stoically in the second half but the Urchins winner came in the 85th minute when from a free kick 20 yards out, Higgins blasted home a shot which Rowley couldn’t get to and into the left corner of the net for his 10th goal of the season.
Cray were looking to bounce back from the rather flat defeat to Hastings United on Wednesday and from the side which started that game into the team came Ben Krauhaus for Roman Charles-Cook, Mitch Chapman for Michael Ademiluyi and making his debut at centre-half, Freddie Carter who signed on Friday on a season work experience loan from Gillingham in place of the injured Sinn’kaye Christie with Anthony Cook playing at right back.
Hornchurch who had won the last five in league and FA Cup went top of the table on Tuesday after a 6-0 win at Herne Bay and made two changes with Micky Parcell coming in for Remi Sutton and Ola Ogunwamide for Tom Wraight.
On a rather sunny late September afternoon the game got off to a very even start after an initial lively spell from the home side and there were no real chances or shots in the opening quarter of an hour.
Hornchurch though opened the scoring in the 17th minute when a free kick from Jack Munns into the box wasn’t cleared and Ogunwamide down the left found Higgins who crisply fired into the bottom right corner for a well taken goal.
Almost from the kick off captain Lewwis Spence tried his luck from just shy of half way and dipped only just over the bar.
This was followed in the 20th minute from a corner from Munns into the area the ball was met by Nathan Bertram-Cooper and Rowley had to push the ball over for another corner. From the corner, the ball came out to Liam Nash and his shot was goalbound but Rowley did superbly to push the ball over the bar.
Cray though began to weather what could have been a difficult spell and just before the half hour, good work by Jalen Jones and Billy Crook saw the ball come to the impressive David Ijaha and his shot from 25 yards forced Joseph Wright to get down to save.
Then in the 33rd minute Crook combined with Chapman to hit a shot from distance which took a slight deflection and Wright saved at the second attempt.
In the 41st minute Cray had parity once again when down the right a ball over the top from Cook found Dan Bassett who did well to hold off the challenge of Wyan Reid to clinically shoot past Wright into the net for his fifth goal of the season and at half time the sides went in all square.
Hornchurch began the second half on the front foot and from a throw in down the right the ball was flicked towards the far post where Ogunwamide shot wide.
Spence once again tried a long distance shot which ended up on the roof of the net but wouldn’t have counted as a foul was given on Rowley.
Then Munns saw a shot blocked and Higgins drove forward and his shot was deflected behind for a corner.
Cray were defending very well and did look for a break and Chapman saw a shot blocked and then Crook and Derry combined to set up Ijaha who fired well wide just after the hour.
Hornchurch though showed at times their real quality and in the 71st minute almost went back in front when Parcell found Ogunwamide down the left and his cross to the far post was met by a sweet volley from Higgins which was pushed away well by Rowley. Then, a Parcell cross found Ollie Muldoon who fired wide of the right post.
Ten minutes from time Cray showed that they were not settling for a point and from Rowley’s ball forward, Derry headed the ball back to Cook who hit an accurate shot down the right from 20 yards which was well claimed by Wright.
Five minutes from the end, Hornchurch were awarded a free kick 20 yards from goal following a foul by Sam Wood was perhaps harshly booked and certainly didn’t warrant a red card. From the free kick, Higgins’ shot went through the wall and Rowley couldn’t quite get his hand to the ball to prevent it from going into the net and put Hornchuch back in front.
Cray battled on to try and get back into it again and Michael Ademiluyi down the right sent over a cross which Reid had to turn behind for a corner.
In the end though despite a sterling effort against a very good side Cray couldn’t get a goal which would secure a point and go down to 10th in the table as one of of four teams on 12 points. There were some exceptional performances from the team in amber and black especially the centre halves, Jones and Carter who were up against quality forwards, Ijaha, Chapman and Crook at times bossed the midfield and Ben Krauhaus was superb playing down the right hand side and full of energy. Derry and Bassett worked hard up front and there won’t be many teams that come to Hornchurch and take them this close to the wire this season.
The win keeps Hornchurch top of the table on goal difference from Potters Bar Town on 18 points and look to be contenders for the season ahead. Cray though despite back to back league defeats can be encouraged by their display and gave everything on the day.
Cray next head to Sheppey United on Tuesday night in the Kent Senior Cup and then take a few days break with no game on 1st October before heading to Corinthian Casuals on 4th October.
Hornchurch: Joe Wright, Wyan Reid, Micky Parcell, Nathan Bertram-Cooper, Rickie Hayles, Ola Ogunwamide, Jack Munns (Ollie Muldoon, 65), Lewwis Spence, Sam Higgins, Liam Nash (Joe Christou, 87), Charlie Stimson (David Smith, 65): Subs: Tobi Joseph, Remi Sutton
Booked: Spence, Parcell, Reid
Cray Wanderers: Shaun Rowley, Anthony Cook, Jalen Jones, Freddie Carter, Sam Wood, David Ijaha, Mitch Chapman (Sam Skeffington, 90), Billy Crook (Michael Ademiluyi, 78), Ben Krauhaus (Roman Charles-Cook, 90+4), Dan Bassett, Tom Derry: Subs: Alex Bentley, Jargal Enkh
Booked: Chapman, Wood
Referee: Will Briers
Assistants: Ron Albert, Jack Phillips