AFC Hornchurch’s two-game winning streak ended against Cheshunt, who proved to be more clinical in front of goal. Striker Jason Hallett scored both goals, giving Cheshunt a 2-1 victory.
Hornchurch’s first chance of the game came in the second minute as Leon McKenzie had the ball crossed to him, but the Cheshunt defenders were quick to close him down knowing how clinical McKenzie has been in front of goal this season, as he has scored 33 goals in all competitions.
Cheshunt’s first goal-scoring opportunity came in the ninth minute. Their corner went through everyone in the box and was only slightly cleared by Hornchurch, Dave Kendall then had a shot that blazed over the bar.
One minute later Cheshunt got their first goal of the game. The ball was crossed in from the left and Hallett headed it into the back of the net. It was a strong powerful header, but the cross was a striker’s dream as it was placed into the perfect area.
In the 27th minute Cheshunt’s Luke Illsley went close to scoring. The ball was cleared from a corner and fell to Illsley who took a touch and had a shot at goal, which went just wide of the goal and the Hornchurch players began to question why he was not closed down quicker.
The first yellow card of the game was awarded against Hornchurch’s Ross Wall. A long ball came over and he was pushed in the back and his hands were forced up to make contact withtheball. The referee decided it was deliberate and issued the yellow card although Wall tried his hardest to contest the decision.
Hornchurch had a free kick in the last minute of the half as Jordan Spearman of Cheshunt brought down Abs Thompson and Spearman was issued a yellow. However, the free kick came to nothing and the referee blew his whistle for half time.
Cheshunt started the second half strongly. Five minutes in goalscorer Hallett went close again with another header from another great cross that came in from the right-hand side, but his effort went just wide.
More yellow cards were issued in the second half as in the space of two minutes Thompson was booked for a late challenge in the 54th minute. Then Cheshunt’s Jack Lampe was yellow-carded for a deliberate foul, to relieve the pressure on Cheshunt’s defence.
Hornchurch made their first substitution in the 64th minute as Usman Adeniji was replaced by Tobi Joseph. Eight minutes after the first substitution Gary Cohen had to leave the pitch due to injury and was replaced by attacker Martin Tuohy, which showed the manager Jimmy McFarlane’s intentions for the remaining 18 minutes.
Then in the 76th minute Cheshunt got their second, as Hallett took a shot inside the 18-yard box which took a deflection that looped over the goalkeeper Sam Mott. It landed in Hornchurch’s goal and it looked like this was enough for Cheshunt.
In the 88th minute Martin Tuohy scored a consolation goal for Hornchurch. A corner dropped to Tuohy in the penalty area and he volleyed it into the back of the net, which gave Hornchurch players a boost of energy for the remaining few minutes.
Hornchurch had chances in the remaining minutes, determined to rescue a point from the game, but it was not enough and Cheshunt walked away from the game with all three points.
Speaking after the game Alex Bentley said: “I’d say if you look at the chances across the game I think we probably do deserve more from the game. I wouldn’t have said they were better than us, I think they maybe showed a little bit more endeavour, but I would say on the chances we didn’t deserve to lose the game.”
When asked on Cheshunt’s tactic of marking top goal-scorer McKenzie out of the game Bentley said, “I think they were clever, they put their big centre half on him ensuring he was against at all time and didn’t give Leon a lot of chance. Leon’s been brilliant for us all season but I think by his own admission he probably wasn’t at his best today.”
Rising East asked Bentley whether this result affects their promotion chances and he said, “I think we would be kidding ourselves if we said this didn’t affect our chances of an automatic spot. One of the boys told me Brightlingsea lost, so if we had have won today that puts us something like three points off them with the chance to play them ourselves. Yes, of course it will affect us for an automatic spot, playoffs no, I still think if we end up having to do it that way then we’ve got a very good chance.”