Silverware for Town!
By Ken Brazier
AFC Hornchurch 0 Enfield Town 2 (Velocity Trophy Final)
Town put their recent league disappointments behind them on a bitterly cold April evening at Aveley's Parkside Stadium to secure their first knock-out trophy since the 2009-10 Middlesex Super Cup.
An impressive 617 braved the elements to watch a final that took a little time to get into full swing but, once it did, there was no question that the better side on the night picked up the trophy. Town were without the cup-tied Matt Nolan, Jay Porter, Marc Weatherstone and Kezie Ibe, while Muhammadu Faal and Ryan Blackman continued to be sidelined with injury.
After early exchanges had failed to trouble either keeper unduly, both Callum Chafer and his opposite number Joe Wright had work to do, keeping out headers, although Wright's save didn't matter as referee Isaac Searle had spotted a handball during the build-up on 15 minutes.
A dangerous inswinging cross from Sam Youngs on the left was headed clear by Glenn Wilson and then Billy Bricknell had a shot charged down by Jordan Clark after good approach play involving Sam Chaney and Mickey Parcell.
Wright grabbed hold of an effort from George Purcell as both sides, looking evenly matched, sought the breakthrough. Ten minutes before the break, Bricknell knocked the ball down to Lewis Taaffe, but his shot sailed over the top. Then Josh Davison temporarily got the better of Chafer, charging down an ettempted clearance, but as both players strove to get to the rebound they collided, the ball being kept out by the keeper, and Davison requiring treatment.
George Saunders found Clark in the box for the Urchins, but Youngs managed to get in a vital block. Then Purcell cut inside Parcell, but his shot went wide of the near post. There were appeals for hands as Davison got in another goalbound shot while, at the other end, a Saunders corner was fizzed into the Enfield box but Dan Rumens was on hand to clear the danger. A low speculative drive from distance from Chaney was easily held by Chafer, while Wright also had a routine save to make when Bricknell's cross found Davison's head.
Half-time: AFC Hornchurch 0 Enfield Town 0
The second period opened with Youngs firing wide, Wright saving from Saunders and Chafer reacting well to Bricknell's left-footed snapshot. On the hour Parcell found Youngs but the midfielder scuffed his effort wide from a good position. But Town fans didn't have long to wait for better news when a sweeping move, again involving Parcell, was converted by Davison from close range on 57 minutes.
Hornchurch responded immediately, and thought they had equalised virtually straight from the kick-off, but the referee's assistant had his flag raised for an infringement. Then a couple of minutes later, Sean Marks missed a glorious opportunity when he couldn't turn in a ball cross the six-yard box from the AFC right. Shortly afterwards, Wright's misplaced punch looked ominous but he recovered well amidst a crowded box.
Town hit their supporters' relief button when they secured a two-goal cushion on 63 minutes after Chaney had accelerated through the middle, leaving defenders in his wake, and side-footed home. Cue major celebrations.
Wright pushed another Marks effort behind to keep the score intact, and then Chafer also made an impressive tip over to deny Bricknell. Another chance came and went when Bricknell and Matt Johnson got in each other's way, while Hornchurch kept running and Marks stabbed wide of the target before being substituted. Charlie Stimson headed narrowly wide as AFC began to run out of time.
Davison charged down the right and elected to shoot, way off target, rather than attempt to play in Bricknell, who was visibly unimpressed. There was just time for Youngs to be unceremonously brought down on the edge of the box, with no card deemed necessary by referee Searle, and the subsequent free kick to be cleared, and Bricknell to be denied by an upright as he sought to increase his personal Velocity Final goal tally to seven in three games. The final whistle was greeted with delight by the majority of the crowd; it was a memorable evening.
Manager Andy Leese said "It was a fantastic night for the club after the frustrations of the last few weeks. There's not a lot of silverware to go round at every level of the game, so to bring some to the club after a few barren years is great. We had to lift the players after the weekend and adapted our shape to cater for injuries and ineligibility. The lads were top class from start to finish, and I thought we fully deserved it in the end against a strong and well-organised outfit. Our supporters showed they are the best in the league and we were pleased to have been able to reward them with a good display and a trophy".
AFC Hornchurch: Callum Chafer, Alex Bentley, Ronnie Winn, Kenzer Lee, Glenn Wilson, Jordan Clark, George Saunders, Joe Christou, Sean Marks (Sonny Dutton 76), George Purcell, Charlie Stimson. Unused subs: George Winn, James Goode, Harvey Wright.
Enfield Town: Joe Wright, Mickey Parcell, Joe Payne, Matt Johnson, Sam Hatton, Dan Rumens, Sam Chaney (James Mulley 83), Sam Youngs, Billy Bricknell, Josh Davison (Bilal Sayoud 87), Lewis Taaffe (Aaron Greene 90). Unused subs: George Quarrington-Carter, Ed Thompson. Booked: Parcell, Chaney, Hatton.
Town Man-of-the-Match: Mickey Parcell.