League Leaders Defeated
Penalty Settles It
A seventy-fourth minute penalty settled the game as Joe Whight (pictured) slotted home from the spot after Mekhi McKenzie had been taken out on the edge of the penalty area.
A. F. C. Sudbury welcomed A.F.C. Hornchurch to the King’s Marsh Stadium on a perfect late Winter’s afternoon. The home side were looking to stretch an unbeaten run to six matches and could face no sterner test than the current League leaders.
A.F.C. Sudbury kicked off the match attacking right to left as viewed from the Brian Tatum Seated Stand. In the opening minute the home side were somewhat fortunate not to concede the lead. The ball bounced over the head of Joe Whight with Christian Assombalonga racing in on goal. He sent a chip wide of Paul Walker’s right hand upright in what was an early escape for the Sudbury side.
On five minutes Darryl Coakley sent a free-kick against the A.F.C. Hornchurch wall for a corner which yielded nothing in the way of a chance for the home side. Five minutes on and Assombalonga turned provider as George Purcell ran on to the ball to cross, this time Billy Holland on hand to block the ball behind. From the resultant corner an almighty scramble in the home penalty area saw Sam Mills on hand to block a shot on the line and the ball cleared from danger.
Midway into a high-paced half, Nathan Livings latched onto a loose ball and thumped a shot just wide of the goal. On twenty-nine minutes a neat through-ball from Ollie Peters saw Mekhi McKenzie rushing through on goal, but a well-timed tackle from Hornchurch centre-half Nathan Cooper saw the attack neutralised.
On the half hour Sam Mills was very well placed to head off the home goal line as a corner from Livings threatened to break the deadlock. This was far from the league leaders in dominating form however. A minute later saw Mekhi McKenzie turn and fire a shot high over the crossbar, but the opposition were finding the home side not only resolute in defence, but confident and competent enough to ask real attacking questions.
On thirty-three minutes Sam Mills’ probing cross was smuggled clear by the A.F.C. Hornchurch defence as Sudbury grew in confidence. With thirty-seven minutes gone Darryl Coakley found Joe Whight with a free-kick and he sent the ball at pace through the A.F.C. Hornchurch penalty area with no-one on hand to get a touch.
Sudbury’s long throw specialist Darryl Coakley delivered a headed flick for Mckenzie which fell for Ollie Peters to head straight into the hands of Hornchurch ‘keeper Harry Palmer. In injury-time George Purcell struck the home wall with a free-kick as the sides went into the break without a goal between them.
Half -Time;- AFC Sudbury 0 AFC Hornchurch 0
A.F.C. Sudbury made a half-time substitution with Ben Hunter replacing Phil Kelly who was suffering from a dead leg. On forty-seven minutes Ryan Horne delivered a superb cross which Mekhi McKenzie rose to meet and glanced off Harry Palmer’s fingers for a home corner.
Darryl Coakley’s delivery fell for Joe Whight who headed over the crossbar as A.F.C. Sudbury started the half with positive intent. A lovely move on fifty minutes saw Ollie Peters find Ben Hunter whose excellent cross was just ahead of McKenzie and Horne for the home side.
Five minutes on and Nathan Cooper used his hight to meet Nathan Livings’ cross, but headed just wide. Purcell powered forward for Hornchurch, but a brilliant slide-tackle by Tyler French extinguished another promising visitor’s attack.
Ollie Peters released Joe Wright on the hour, but the impressive Nathan Cooper’s superb tackle averted danger at the other end as the sides continued to press each other hard without necessarily creating too many clear-cut chances.
There were seventy-two minutes on the clock when A.F.C. Sudbury were awarded a penalty, Mekhi McKenzie was adjudged to have been tripped in the penalty area. After a delay whilst Elliot Styles was booked for dissent, Joe Whight stepped forward to blast home and give the home side the lead.
Sudbury weathered each increasingly hurried A.F.C. Hornchurch attack with determination and real courage as is becoming their hallmark. Will Crisell came on with two minutes on the clock remaining, Ryan Horne’s afternoon of hard work coming to an end to warm home applause.
Paul Walker palmed a late cross away for a corner with injury-time well-advanced, but A.F.C. Sudbury coped well with the league leaders’ late flurry and fully deserved this hard-fought and gritty win.
The tough fixtures continue for the A.F.C. Sudbury side.
Next Saturday they travel to second-placed Bowers & Pitsea before a home tie with Witham Town on March 3rd.