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Match Report
Bostik North - 2017/2018
AFC Hornchurch 1
T. Fairweather-Johnson (86)
Canvey Island 0

Despite a good performance, Canvey Island fell to a 1-0 defeat away to league leaders AFC Hornchurch in the Bostik North on Saturday.

Manager Danny Heale went with the same starting XI and bench that drew 1-1 with Potters Bar Town in the Gulls last match a fortnight earlier. There were three former-Urchins in the Canvey ranks, with Sam Collins starting in midfield and the attack minded duo of Martin Tuohy and Ozzy Adeniji on the bench.

The first half was for from a classic, with neither side really managing to get on top of proceedings on a bobbly playing surface.

Hornchurch’s best chance of the half came after only six minutes when they launched a counter attack with a long ball forwards which found the run of Brad Warner. The former-Bowers & Pitsea man bore down on goal but saw his low shot saved by the left foot of goalkeeper Henry Newcombe and go behind for a corner.

Canvey should have taken the lead on 26 minutes when Mitchell Gilbey played a ball across goal from the right to the back post. Frankie Merrifield ghosted in behind the Hornchurch defence but with the goal at his mercy he skied his shot over the bar from inside the six-yard box.

The Gulls had another chance on 32 minutes when a ball into the area was partially cleared, but in doing so sat up perfectly to be struck by Sam Collins from 25 yards. Collins connected well and hit a sweet shot which looked destined for the bottom corner until defender Jay Porter stuck out a leg to make a crucial block.

The hosts thought they had taken the lead on the stroke of half time when forward Christian Assombalonga chipped the ball over Henry Newcombe and looked to have broken the deadlock. However, Steve Sheehan had stayed alert to the danger and raced back to clear the ball off the line.

The second half took a while to get going, with the first action in front of goal coming 20 minutes in when Urchins midfielder Nathan Livings had a low shot saved by Henry Newcombe diving low to his left.

Soon afterwards a good cross from the right by George Purcell to the back post found Brad Warner, but having gotten up well he was unable to guide his header on target for the home side.

On 72 minutes Canvey came close themselves when Sam Collins chipped a cross to the back post of his own, with Mitchell Gilbey inches away from getting on the end of his having snuck in behind his marker.

From this point on, Canvey lay siege to the Hornchurch goal and will wonder how they didn’t manage to score.

On 73 minutes a good first touch from George Sykes took him past Alex Bentley down the left wing, giving him plenty of time to deliver an excellent ball into the box. George Craddock rose well to connect with his head, but the ball hit Jay Porter and bounced over the bar for a corner.

Their best chance of the second half came four minutes later when substitute Ryan Charles played the ball into the feet of Mitchell Gilbey on the edge of the box. Gilbey turned and sent a low ball across the face of goal from the right which George Sykes slid in to meet but couldn’t quite make contact from point blank range.

AFC Hornchurch’s late goals this season have earned them numerous points this season, and this would prove to be the case once more in the 86th minute.

On the counter attack the ball found Brad Warner who advanced to the corner of the penalty area on the left before being held up by Ashley Dumas. Warner waited for support which duly arrived, and he sent over a perfect cross for substitute Theo Fairweather-Johnson to finish with a glancing header across goal and into the bottom corner.

Canvey flooded forward in search of an equaliser which nearly came in the second minute of stoppage time when Sam Collins was fouled on the edge of the area. Collins picked himself up hit a powerful free kick which was blocked by a defender to prevent it from breaking the net.

A series of corners followed, but even with goalkeeper Henry Newcombe joining the attack Canvey were unable to find the goal their performance had warranted against the champions-elect.

Danny Heale Post-Match Interview with Simon Pitts