Blues Stung By Late Urchin Strikes
A disappointing first league outing ended in defeat at Parkside writes The Mariner
A second local derby of the new season saw Blues lose out to Hornchurch in a close fought encounter with two late strikes and a red card for Blues defender Glenn Wilson deciding the outcome .Blues will feel hard done by particularly considering Urchins' Styles was guilty of a number of fouls which on another day would have resulted in a red and not the yellow card he did receive.
A tentative start saw both sides probing for an opening with the Urchins setting out their stall early seeing the ball pumped forward for their muscular forwards to chase and harry the Blues back line in stark contrast to Blues who were employing a passing game on the pristine Parkside surface.
Ade Cole was presented with Blues first opportunity when the impressive Suleyman Zuhdu foraged into the Urchins half threading the ball to Kieran Hughes-Mason who scampered forward and cut the ball back to Cole and without breaking stride struck the ball just over.It was Hornchurch though who wrestled the initiative their forward sorties were swift and menacing but the Blues back line held firm under the arial assault.
Chances were few and far between with neither side able to engineer a clear opportunity the battle in midfield leading to some robust challenges and it was no surprise when Styles found himself in Mr Ions notebook after a number of challenges, Joao Carlos and Ade Cole being on the receiving end of most.
Blues belatedly stirred from they're early slumber and began asking questions of the visitors rearguard.Barry Cogan , Cole and the industrious Zuhdu were showing an armoury of passes allowing Blues wide men to get behind the Urchins back line,the pace of Blues movement was causing problems but at the same time it was the final ball and a reluctance to try an effort on goal that let them down.Kieran Bishop was feeding off scraps at this stage closely marked he struggled to make an impact but he did have a good shout for a penalty when he wriggled between two defenders and appeared to be barged to the ground.
Lamar Johnson had to be alert when a quick break from Fairweather-Johnson saw him drill in a low shot which the Blues keeper did well to hold and then at the other end Zuhdu embarked on a mazy run beating three defenders cutting the ball back to Cole who saw his shot deflected behind .It was to be the last opportunity of an entertaining half that saw the Blues enjoy periods of fluent passing football against a direct approach from their opponents.
After the break Urchins came storming out of the blocks and just minutes into the half they had an opportunity with a quick break but Purcell fired over .Moments later though they should have gone in front when Johnson beat away a fierce Purcell drive the ball falling to Warner who missed the target with the goal gaping.It was a lucky let off for the Blues who were finding it difficult to establish any momentum.The visitors came close again when a header flew over from a free kick
That Blues did manage to weather the storm was down to some dogged defending ,Dunn and Wilson supported by James Folkes and Sam Cross managed to keep the visitors at bay and slowly Blues began to gain the ascendency.A quick free kick on the edge of the visitors box was played to Cole who steered his shot across goal narrowly missing the upright.
Blues were now camped in the Hornchurch half who's defending was becoming increasingly desperate, Zuhdu now a hive of industry fed Cole who forced Mott into a smart save turning the ball behind.From the corner the ball fell to Wilson who prodded the ball towards goal only to see it hacked off the line.At this stage of proceedings it looked like Blues were the most likely to go in front such was their domination but the final killer touch was still found wanting.
Blues still had to be on their guard another quick break saw the visitors nearly snatch the lead when Johnson was relieved to see a fierce low drive slide wide of the far post.,Blues still continued to press without an end result and as so often happens they fell for the sucker punch in the 75th minute.
Attacking deep in the Urchins half the ball was intercepted and quickly played forward where Warner capitalised on losing his marker unleashed a shot that proved unstoppable nestling in the bottom corner ,it was a goal against the run of play but illustrated when chances present themselves then they must be put away.
The goal was a real blow for Blues who had laid siege to the visitors goal earlier and their misery was compounded minutes later when following a corner and a game of penalty area ping pong Wilson was adjudged to have handled the ball and was given his marching orders.It seemed harsh at the time and no doubt Blues management will appeal against the decision.The resultant penalty saw Johnson save Mckenzie's kick and maybe justice was done.
A goal down and a man down made for a difficult final few minutes for Blues, Hornchurch were now content to hold onto their lead and play down the clock Blues to their credit plugged away but failed to fashion an equaliser.Hornchurch then rounded off the scoring with a second on 90 minutes when Purcell was allowed to squirm out of a challenge turn and blast the ball past Johnson to complete Blues misery.
The scoreline was harsh on the Blues and did not reflect what was a close fought encounter ,arguably a draw would have been a fair result the difference however between the sides was up front where the Urchins strikers proved to be more clinical in front of goal.Yes Blues passing game was pleasing on the eye but without an end result ,something the management team will no doubt address in the weeks to come.However they should not be too disappointed Hornchurch are a well drilled powerful outfit and will be up there challenging for honours come the end of the season with hopefully Blues up there with them.
This Saturday sees a break from league action when Blues take on Redbridge in the FA Cup and a chance to progress to the next round and pick up prize money into the bargain.