Blues suffer fifth defeat in a row as Cureton and co leave them still seeking their first win in 2020
Bishop's Stortford 0 Hornchurch 2 (BetVictor Isthmian League, Premier Division)
Daniel Williamson, a 10-year-old pupil at Bishop's Stortford College, makes his match reporting debut for the Indie at the ProKit UK Stadium...
The boys in Blue saw their winless run stretched to 10 games as they were beaten 2-0 at home by high-flying Hornchurch, former Bishop's Stortford player-manager Jamie Cureton’s new club.
Stortford, who were 16th in the table coming into the game, were much the better team for the first 25 minutes, showing nice signs of attacking movement, but the strong wind made it difficult and many of the attacks broke down.
Their best chance fell to Aaron Greene, who controlled a through ball nicely and ran clear of the defence. His chipped shot was saved by the fingertips of Hornchurch goalkeeper Joe Wright and cleared to safety.
Towards the end of the first half the game started to turn in Hornchurch’s favour, after a few poor refereeing decisions and Stortford’s failure to take chances.
Soon after Stortford’s second penalty shout of the game (poorly dealt with by the referee), Hornchurch’s top scorer, former Ghanaian international Chris Dickson, latched on to a charged down defensive clearance. The ball fell nicely for him to break away from Mark Haines and slot the ball into the back of the Blues net. It was an unlucky end to the first half for the Blues, who had been the better team for most of it.
Blues manager Steve Smith obviously thought he needed to make an attacking substitution at half time and brought on Alex Warman for Haines, who had been carrying an injury for the last few minutes of the first half. This decision soon had an impact.
New signing Craig Calver was again wrestled to the ground in the penalty area by Hornchurch’s No 5, Nathan Cooper, who had been booked for doing a similar thing to Calver earlier in the game. To the disbelief of the Stortford crowd and manager Smith, who after the game described it as a "stonewall penalty", the referee dismissed the appeals and gave a free kick the other way.
For the period after this the sides were evenly matched and both teams had quite a few chances, but the goalkeepers stayed solid. Hornchurch’s best chance fell to former Blue Cureton, who had been quiet for a lot of the game, when Dickson’s Maradona turn was blocked by Blues captain Ryan Henshaw and the ball deflected to Cureton, who fired his shot straight at goalkeeper Fred Burbidge.
Four minutes later at the other end, Stortford put together their best move of the game so far when substitute Louie Johnson played a lovely cross-field ball to Greene, whose shot was saved by Wright. The ball fell to Johnson, who rolled it agonisingly across the six-yard box but nobody was there to tap it in.
With time running out and Stortford hopeful of an equaliser, Hornchurch got another soft free kick when James Baker was judged to have pulled Hornchurch attacker Adam Cunnington to the ground. Joe Christou took the set-piece and curled the ball beautifully towards the top right-hand corner, but Burbidge made a fantastic save to tip the ball onto the crossbar. Before he could get back to his feet, Hornchurch captain Matt Johnson headed the ball into the empty net.
Hornchurch now had a two-goal lead with only 10 minutes to go. Blues kept on throwing men forward and pressurising the visitors' back line, with substitute striker Shomari Barnwell at the centre of it. The best chance fell to him in the 84th minute when Calver played a through ball to his feet. Barnwell’s attempt was straight at the keeper, though, and he should have done better from the one-on-one situation.
The final whistle went shortly after this, leaving the small group of noisy Hornchurch supporters happy and the Stortford fans frustrated that their team’s efforts again could not be converted into goals.
After the game I spoke to Steve Smith, who said that he was pleased with the team’s performance but disappointed with the result and with the referee for not awarding the penalty. He said that he is looking to bring in two more signings this week but is not worried about relegation, a view shared by chairman Ian Kettridge.
My Stortford man of the match was Aaron Greene, who I also had the privilege of speaking to. He said that it felt a little bit weird playing against Jamie Cureton and that the new signings were settling in very well.
The Blues’ next game sees them travel to Corinthian Casuals, who are below Stortford in the league. This should hopefully give the boys a chance of bagging their first win in 2020.
BLUES PLAYER RATINGS
Fred Burbidge 7, Sam Robbins 6, Ryan Henshaw (c) 7, Johnville Renee 7, Craig Calver 7, Aaron Greene 8, Jack Folan 6, Ross Debrick 6, Mark Haines 6, Bradley McClenaghan 6, James Baker 6. Subs: Alex Warman 6, Louie Johnson 7, Shomari Barnwell 7.
Final word from Daniel... Thank you to chairman Ian Kettridge, owner/manager Steve Smith and players Aaron Greene and Ryan Henshaw for making me feel so welcome and for giving me this opportunity.