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Match Report

Hendon
2
AFC Hornchurch
1
Date:
Tuesday 22 March 2011
Competition:
Isthmian League Premier Division
Attendance:
141
Venue:
TBA

Match Report

Hendon's almost five-week wait for a victory came to an end at Vale Farm on Tuesday night as AFC Hornchurch were beaten 2-1, a result which lifted the Greens back up to 15th in the Ryman League Premier Division table. The result was just about deserved for the enterprising first half and much more resilient defensive display after the interval.

There was only one change to the starting 11, Eddie Munnelly replacing Brian Haule, but there were numerous positional changes to accommodate him. Craig Vargas was given a run-out elsewhere to get more game time, so the bench contained four attacking options, Haule, Aaron Morgan, Lubomir Guentchev and Bradley Ambrose, plus goalkeeper James Reading.

Both teams spent the opening 10 minutes probing for openings without finding any. Scott Cousins deserves particular credit for marshalling the Hendon defence, though the Greens' job was made a little easier by dangerous goalscorers Kieran St Amie and Martin Tuohy sitting on the Urchins bench.

In the 13th minute, Hendon thought they had taken the lead. A through ball to Greg Ngoyi went past the striker when a Hornchurch defender went right through the back of him, but Belal Aite-Ouakrim took possession instead.

The referee waved play on, clearly signifying an advantage and Aite-Ouakrim then squared the ball to Kevin Maclaren, who wasted no time in slamming the ball into the net. As he turned away in celebration, eyes turned to the right touchline where, level with a spot three yards outside the penalty area, the assistant referee stood with his flag raised.

The referee, to his credit, didn't just disallow the goal, but went over to speak to his assistant. If Ngoyi was offside, then the decision which followed was absolutely correct; if it was Aite-Ouakrim - and those who were almost level with play thought he had strayed a yard too far - then the free-kick to Hornchurch was probably wrong.

That, however, was the decision - saying the referee from the issue of how to deal with the player who had flattened Ngoyi. It was a foul from behind and, without the contact, the Hendon striker would have had a clear run at goal. All was rendered moot as Ngoyi was considered the guilty offside party.

The next effort of note came at the other end, but Tommy Black, from a very good position, failed to hit the target. It was a rare sight of goal for either team in an open game between two teams playing very different styles and formations. Hendon used both Danny Dyer and Munnelly well down the flanks, though with a distinct lack of height in the Greens' line-up, aerial crosses were futile.

As the match moved into first-half stoppage time, Hendon were awarded a free-kick. Hornchurch, as they did most of the evening, left the far post unguarded. When the ball came in, Dave Diedhiou rose highest and sent his header looping towards the target.

Had a defender been guarding that post, he would not have been able to do anything about the ball as it dropped and struck the angle of crossbar and post, but he would have been first to the rebound. Instead the fastest to react was Casey Maclaren, who headed the ball back towards the goal.

Showing his striker's poaching instincts, Ngoyi nipped in front of his marker and guided a header into the net. Whilst not exactly a scrappy goal, it was certainly one that came from a scramble in the penalty area - and converting this type of chance is something that Hendon have not been good at in recent times.

There was barely time for play to resume before the half-time whistle went. It meant that for the third consecutive midweek home League fixture, the Greens returned to the dressing rooms holding a 1-0 lead.

One would have expected that Hornchurch would come out for the second half all guns blazing, but they didn't, or they weren't allowed to. In fact, the first ten minutes of the second half mirrored the first half - very cagey, with neither team stamping its authority on the proceedings.

Clearly things were not going the way Hornchurch manager Jimmy MacFarlane was expecting, because he made two changes in the next seven minutes. First St. Amie replaced the anonymous Tambeson Eyong and then, in more attacking switch, Tuohy for defender Dave McSweeney. Within two minutes of the first change, in the 58th minute, Hornchurch created a good opening, but Berkley Laurencin made an excellent save.

This started a spell of concerted spell of pressure from the visitors. Hendon were unable to get the ball to either Ngoyi or Aite-Ouakrim, who were forced to drop deeper and deeper to get possession.

The pressure told in the 74th minute. The Greens lost the ball near to the half-way line and Hornchurch put together a fast, flowing passing move which culminated in the Tuohy having the time and space to fire past Laurencin.

In recent times, the Hendon defence would probably have buckled a second time and there were a couple of near things. But with Jamie Busby and Kevin Maclaren playing just in front of Casey Maclaren, James Parker and Cousins, there was added resilience and, although they missed a couple of presentable chances, Hendon were able to hold out.

Nevertheless, when Dyer released Aite-Ouakrim just over the half-way line in the 81st minute, there was more relief than anything else. That relief quickly turned to joy as Aite-Ouakrim, assisted by a neat return pass by Kevin Maclaren, ripped through the Hornchurch defence.

A desperate challenge took the ball off Aite-Ouakrim's boot, but it went almost straight to Ngoyi. Although he was slightly off balance and didn't strike the ball particularly cleanly, the direction of Ngoyi's shot could not have been better as the ball trundled just inside the far post beyond the dive of Darren Behcet.

Almost immediately after the restart, Hornchurch had a great chance to grab another equaliser, but they failed to take it. The final nine minutes, plus a few added on for stoppages, were painful for Hendon fans to watch.

Time-wasting substitutions saw Morgan and Guentchev replace Aite-Ouakrim and Ngoyi - the Urchins sent on Jonathan Hunt for Dave Collis - and they had the desired effect of breaking up the action. The thin green line held firm and the final whistle was greeted with much relief as much as satisfaction.

"I was massively relieved to hear the final whistle tonight," admitted manager Gary McCann. "This victory has been a long time coming.

"I must be honest, when they equalised, for the next 5-7 minutes, I feared the worst. But we battled though it and then scored a very good winning goal.

"We have to take this win and the good performance into the weekend, when we go to Folkestone, then have two games in three days."

Report by David Ballheimer

Hendon

1
Berkley Laurencin
2
Dave Diedhiou
3
Scott Cousins
4
Casey Maclaren
5
James Parker
6
Eddie Munnelly
7
Danny Dyer
8
Kevin Maclaren
9
Greg Ngoyi
10
Belal Aite-Ouakrim
11
Jamie Busby
12
Brian Haule
13
Bradley Ambrose
14
Aaron Morgan
15
Lubomir Guentchev
16
James Reading

Match Events

45''
Greg Ngoyi
Kieran St Aimie replaced Tambeson Eyong
56''
Martin Tuohy replaced Dave McSweeney
63''
Martin Tuohy
74''
81''
Greg Ngoyi
88''
Aaron Morgan replaced Belal Aite-Ouakrim
Jonathan Hunt replaced Dave Collis
88''
90''
Lubomir Guentchev replaced Greg Ngoyi

AFC Hornchurch

1
Darren Behcet
2
Dave McSweeney
3
Rickie Hayles
4
Elliott Styles
5
Ronnie Fletcher
6
Scott Curley
7
Tambeson Eyong
8
Dave Collis
9
Tommy Black
10
Lewis Smith
11
Sam Collins
12
Martin Tuohy
14
Kieran St Aimie
15
Jonathan Hunt
16
Billy Coyne
17
Sam Holloway