AFC Hornchurch 1 Tilbury 1
Ryman League North
Report by Scott Lanza
TILBURY salvaged a point on a very wet evening at Bridge Avenue against an AFC Hornchurch side that are also aiming for the play-offs. Having drawn their last two games it meant that the Dockers needed to gain something from this match and they certainly had a go at their hosts with the opening ten minutes seeing the Dockers camped inside the Urchins area. However they were not able to create any clear-cut chances and it was indeed the Urchins who had the first meaningful attack when Alex Bentley let rip from just outside the box which forced Lee Butcher to dive low to keep the ball out. That effort woke the Urchins up and debutant Usman Adeniji sent over a dangerous looking cross into the Dockers six yard box that
Despite their endeavour it took the Dockers until the 12th minute to carve out a real opening. Kurt Smith from an acute angle fired off a shot; sadly it lacked power and so was easily knocked away by Jandir Da Cruz.
AFC Hornchurch took the lead in the 16th minute after Teddy Nesbitt delivered a free kick that Lee Butcher punched clear but the ball fell to Adeniji and the former Witham Town man scored his first goal in Hornchurch colours by stroking the ball into the net.
Tilbury however went straight back at their hosts and Kurt Smith laid off a lovely through ball that almost reached Lewis Francis. The Urchins did not effectively clear their lines and the ball was re-cycled back into their penalty box allowing Jack Carlile to unleash a shot that wasn’t too far off target. Francis was able to use his pace to get into a position to knock a ball across the Urchins goalmouth but Barham, the intended target, wasn’t able to get on the end of it. Had he got a touch on it then it may have resulted in a goal. Then in the 25th minute the ball fell kindly to Smith who from thirty five yards out let fly with a shot that whizzed past the right post, much to the relief of Sam Mott who stood rooted to the spot. Hornchurch replied with a long range effort of their own that was struck with venom by Jed Chouman. Hornchurch’s next effort was even closer as Ross Wall turned and let fly from outside the box that clipped the right upright.
Alex Bentley was the next Urchins player to try his luck, drilling a right foot effort that was only narrowly too high. The Dockers at this juncture were under the cosh and when Adeniji laid a ball off to Nesbitt it looked ominous foe the Dockers. Luckily Nesbitt scuffed his effort and it sailed harmlessly away from Butcher’s net. Carlile had to head away a corner and Smith had to block a Wall effort just on the stroke of half time.
The Dockers started the second half just like they had in the first, holding the ball up nicely but once again were not able to create any clear chances with only a Barnum shot to show for their efforts early in the second period. The conditions made it difficult for both teams but Urchins were able to carve out more opportunities with Ross Wall almost doubling the lead in the 70th minute when he swivelled and unleashed a low shot that Butcher was able to block.
The Dockers to their credit kept going and they almost equalised when a Francis free kick aimed at the back post was nearly pet by the head of Carlile. It was to be Francis’s last contribution of the game as he was soon to be replaced by Toby Aromolaran. The Dockers substitute then made an equally impressive contribution; a mazy run in midfield saw him moving into the Urchins box but a solid tackle from Kanzer Lee was to end that particular sortie. Smith also used some pace to get behind the Urchins defence but his cross, aimed at Hewitt on the back post was headed away.
Tilbury’s best chance of the game came in the 79th minute when Barham sent over a cross from the left that Reece Conway headed towards goal but on this occasion Mott was able to acrobatically tip the ball over the bar. The Urchins did not take heed from this as on 81 minutes the Dockers equalised. A ball was played across the six yard box, finding an unmarked Conway, who put a powerful header into the roof of the net, despite the best intentions of Mott who was able to get a hand to it but not keep it out.
The Dockers backline had to stand firm in the final stages as Hornchurch tried to get themselves a winner; Butcher had to get down low on two occasions to tip away shots from Nesbitt and Wall, while Smith and Nightingill both took it in turns to clear the Tilbury lines as the clock wound down.
Tilbury’s play-off hopes are now in the balance as three draws on the bounce has seen them drop down to eleventh, seven points adrift of the play-off positions. They go again on Saturday when they visit local rivals Thurrock. If the Dockers want to stay in the play-off mix then they have to leave Ship Lane will all three points.
AFC Hornchurch: Sam Mott, Alex Bentley, Jandir Da Cruz, Kenzer Lee, Elliot Styles (Capt), Jed Chouman, Teddy Nesbitt, Ross Wall, Leon McKenzie, Tobi Coker (James Morrish 75), Usman Adeniji
Scorer – Usman Adeniji (16′)
Tilbury: Lee Butcher, Conor Mead, Reece Conway, Danny Smith, Joe Nightingill, Lewis Jaggs, Lewis Francis (Toby Aromolaran 75), Jack Carlile (Capt), Jack Barham, Neil Richmond (Reece Hewitt 67), Kurt Smith
Scorer – Reece Conway (83′)