Rocks on top but they have to do it all again


AFC Hornchurch 1, East Thurrock United 1

EAST Thurrock returned to Bridge Avenue a week after being comprehensively beaten in the league and left rueing rhe fact they dominated much of the the game and really deserved to be through to the FA Cup Second Qualifying Round at the first time of asking.

Now they face a replay at Rookery Hill on Tuesday where they will hope to add the cutting edge to the midfield superiority they showed on Saturday.

The visitors laid down a marker from the kick-off with a flowing move involving Leon McKenzie and Tom Stephen who whipped in a superb cross met by David Bryant who flicked a header over the bar.

Hornchurch responded with a good break and George Purcell sprang the back line but fired wide. Frankie Curley then headed over from a Chris Bourne cross

The pressure was largely in front of Inigo Echepa’s goal though and Rocks won a couple of free kicks around the box, with the keeper punching out one cross invitingly into the path of Connor Witherspoon but the youngster took his eye off the ball and completely missed it as he swung a foot.

On 22 minutes, against the run of play, Bourne had a chance to open the score when he ran on to a long pass from Billy Coyne, and although the shot beat Darren Behcet the ball rolled wide of the post.

Stephen then early caught out Echepa with a cross that ended up drifting towards goal and the keeper had to backpedal to catch the ball at full stretch.

There had been a succession of free kicks by Hornchurch players with ref Ian Bentley taking leniency to its limit at the expense of undermining his authority before he finally did brandish a yellow card – to Rocks’ Lea Dawson.  Stefan Payne was also booked for reacting to the tackle. Derek Duncan took the free kick, and the ball took a deflection before being partly cleared, and a further free kick resulted, this time out on the left side of the field. George Purcell took the kick this time and the ball beat the defence but went wide of the post.

Echepare was again in action when he saved well from McKenzie, but neither side could break the deadlock before the break.

The second half started as the first had, with a flowing Rocks move that ended with McKenzie’s spectacular overhead kick, which brought another full length save from Echepare.

The deadlock was final broken on the hour when McKenzie clipped a superb ball into the path of Bryant who bore down on goal only to be flattened from behind by Elliot Styles. Mr Bentley’s whistle blast came a slit second before the ball broke to Dawson who slotted it into the net. Thet left the ref with only one more decision to make, to dismiss Styles but inexplicably he wasn’t even cautioned, with the official consulting his assistant and asking who committed the foul! The answer was “I don’t know” so the only punishment Urchins received was Stephens’ clinically hit spot kick. Both officials perhaps need a visit to Specsavers!

Knowing they needed something different as Rocks were dominating the game Urchins boss Jim McFarlane replaced Billy Coyne with Carl Rook but his side almost went further behind when Stephen was allowed far too much room in the place vacated by Coyne, but his shot was pushed wide by the fingertips of Echepare.
McFarlane rang more changes with Ade Yusuff replacing Purcell, and Joey May on for Derek Duncan and Hornchurch began to push forward more.

A lovely flowing move ended with Yusuff hitting the side-netting and Behcet made an excellent save from a May free kick, Payne almost found a way through, but the ball was deflected out for a corner, and after Bourne had been put clear on the left by Styles, his cross caused confusion in the East Thurrock defence, before Rook shot narrowly wide.

Hornchurch finally levelled when Ade Yusuff made space on the right, fed May who in turn set Payne away. He cut between Stephen and Simon Peddie and played the ball across the goal to  Rook who hooked it inside Behcet’s near post,

In the time remaining neither side created any clear-cut opportunity, though Hornchurch looked the marginally dangerous with East Thurrock’s heard-working midfield, where Stuart Thurgood was once again hugely influential, running out of steam a little.

However, neither side could produce the killer blow and they will have to do it all again on Tuesday.




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