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Chelmsford City 1 AFC Hornchurch 4
11:57am Thursday 14th March 2013 in Sport
MANAGER Glenn Pennyfather labelled Chelmsford City’s showing against neighbours AFC Hornchurch “as inept a performance as we’ve had” after Martin Tuohy, Kieron St Aimie, an own goal and Lewis Smith consigned the Clarets to only their second home defeat of the campaign at Melbourne Stadium.
The hosts were behind as early as the 3rd minute and they never recovered despite Anthony Cook’s 78th-minute free kick, which offered a modicum of hope at 3-1.
City remain in fourth position having missed the opportunity to creep towards the top three, and Glenn reacted: “Everything was missing tonight. Drive, desire, enthusiasm, ability.
"We just didn’t have anything about us, and we got what we deserved. I’ll make no excuses for the players.”
“Tonight we were out-thought and out-fought. I hold my hands up and apologise to the supporters because that was inept a performance as we’ve had. I’m bewildered, disappointed and embarrassed.
"There was a distinct lack of fight, and I’ve said to the players that they should never, ever enable anyone to point the finger at them for not giving it a real go. But I thought we were second best for the majority of the night.”
Two changes were made to the side which faced Weston-super-Mare eight days earlier. David Rainford was named in the centre of midfield in place of Junior Konadu, while Omer Riza returned in an attacking role instead of Michael Bakare.
However, Cook’s challenge on Chris Bourne early in the match meant the Clarets were up against it from the start, with Tuohy confidently smashing the penalty home to goalkeeper Stuart Searle’s right.
Hornchurch had raced out of the blocks from the whistle, and St Aimie almost made it two within seconds as he had time to chest the ball down in the area before bringing a decent stop out of Searle.
In the 9th minute he fared better when he competed for the ball in the goalmouth, adjusted his position and found the bottom corner to double his team’s lead.
Searle was called upon again on 26 minutes as a first-time chipped pass dropped into the path of Tuohy who angled a low shot which was well saved by the Chelmsford custodian.
Then there was a moment of panic nine minutes before the break when former City forward Smith thumped a free kick inches wide as it careered into the advertising hoardings.
A positive response was required from City after the interval and it threatened to arrive when Aiden Palmer’s rampaging run forward fed Riza, who rolled Jamie Slabber into a shooting position and his prod was straight at ‘keeper Joe Woolley.
Yet normal service was resumed mid-way through the period, Smith progressing in from the right then shooting wide.
Although they were two behind it would only take one goal to get Chelmsford back into the game - unfortunately it arrived at the wrong end on 71 minutes after Michael Spencer crossed from the right and the ball hit Rainford a few yards out as it rolled over his own goal line.
Seven minutes later there was a brief cause for optimism as Cook’s free kick was deflected through a crowd of players and under the body of Woolley to make it 3-1.
Then Smith took it upon himself to ensure there would be no fight-back. He initially stung the palms of Searle with a powerful dead ball from an angle then, with six minutes remaining, Wayne Gray’s flick on sent him away and he rifled low into the net from 15 yards.
David Bridges glanced on to the crossbar from a Cook delivery later on for City.
Glenn summarised: “I don’t want to take anything away from Hornchurch - they did a good job on us tonight, worked extremely hard and punished us in the right areas. We didn’t have an answer to it.
"We didn’t look sharp at all, lacked that spring in our step and we didn’t have a bite in our tackle. It’s cost us, but now we’re looking for a reaction.
"The great thing about football is that there’s the next game, and now we move on to Bath.”