Happy Hornchurch!

By Ian Townsend

Urchins come from behind to defeat Dulwich, Chatham win but remain nine behind, Canvey harm Billericay’s hopes, and Rooks win at Hastings. It’s our Premier Round up.

Our biggest Pitching In Isthmian Premier match on a day of big matches came from Champion Hill, as leaders Hornchurch were put to the test by Dulwich Hamlet and a crowd of two thousand, eight hundred and seventy five. Hamlet had won their previous three and had only two defeats from ten, whilst the visitors, nine points clear at the top and with games in hand over their pursuers, had also won their last three and were nine unbeaten. The Urchins won their first meeting of the campaign by two goals to one, and they went ahead in this one six minutes before the break, Ollie Muldoon with the opener, but Hamlet quickly rallied and their man of the moment, Luke Wanadio, made it seventeen for the season with the equaliser eight minutes into the second half. The hosts then took the lead, Danny Mills completing the turnaround with seventeen minutes left, only for the leaders to level and set up a frantic last ten minutes, Sean Scannell making it two-two. Only two minutes later the visitors were ahead, Mauro Da Silva Vilhette making it three-two on his debut after emerging from the bench, and that’s how it ended- Hornchurch remaining eleven points clear. Image courtesy of the club.

Second place Chatham Town looked to bounce back from a midweek thumping at Wingate & Finchley by welcoming struggling Margate to the Bauvill Stadium. The Chats had lost two of their last three but tended to be rather formidable at home, whilst Margate had been in dire form, taking three points- all draws- from the last thirty available, their last league win coming way back on November 4th. On that basis it was perhaps no surprise when Jamie Yila’s twelfth of the season put the hosts ahead midway through the first half, but it was far more of a surprise when Tyrone Sterling levelled for the visitors eleven minutes into the second half. That spurred on the hosts, and they regained the lead six minutes later, Rowan Liburd making it two-one, and this time they held it.

One thousand, eight hundred and ninety seven enjoyed the entertainment.

Billericay Town knew that they might have a chance to climb above Chatham into second place, but they’d need to defeat Canvey Island to do that- but it was the Gulls who broke the deadlock in this Essex derby, Sam Higgins making it one-nil Gulls just before the half hour mark. Canvey did win at New Lodge in October, an unfamiliar feeling as the Blues had won the six previous meetings between the clubs, and they were given a second boost soon after taking the lead, Town’s Adam Leathers sent off, so they knew they’d be playing against ten men for the next hour.

The Gulls soon capitalised on their advantage, and Higgins once more was the scorer, making it two-nil five minutes before the break. The visitors went down to nine men with six minutes to go, substitute Louis Ramsey the latest to see red, and the hosts added a third, Tobi Tinubu crowning a fine day for the hosts.

Eight hundred and fifty three watched on.

Wingate and Finchley were magnificent in midweek when hammering Chatham Town, and that had been the story of much of the season for the North Londoners, who started the weekend in fourth place and headed to Horsham. The Hornets looked to be returning to their best, winning their last three, and they took the lead in this one just before the hour, Charlie Hester-Cook with the opener. The Blues levelled with fourteen minutes left to set up a grandstand finish, Alkeo Bani with the equaliser, and as it turned out, that was that. Wingate remain fourth, but open up a three point gap on fifth place Hastings.

The crowd was one thousand, one hundred and seventy five.

Fifth place Hastings United welcomed a crowd of two thousand, seven hundred and twelve to Pilot Field for the visit of Lewes in a Sussex derby. United slipped to defeat in midweek against Horsham, but they had won their previous three and hoped to put that quickly behind them, whilst the Rooks had gone from magnificent to woeful in recent weeks, following a long unbeaten run with four defeats in five. It was the visitors who broke the deadlock ten minutes before half time, Kalvin Lumbombo-Kalala keeping up his fine form in front of goal, his fourteenth of the season. Just before the break the hosts afternoon got worse, Jack Dixon sent off, and Lumbombo-Kalala made it two-nil to the visitors just after the hour. The ten men halved the arrears with thirteen minutes left, Davide Rodari with his twenty sixth of the season, but victory for the Rooks was confirmed right at the end, Archie Tamplin making it three-one and seeing his side up to ninth. Hastings hold on to fifth, but have now played two games more than sixth place Enfield Town, who have two games in hand.

Our form team, Bognor Regis Town, welcomed Cheshunt to the seaside. The Rocks had won their previous six, and kept clean sheets in the last three, a run which had taken them to within three points of the top five- and they broke the deadlock four minutes into the second half, Jasper Mather with the opener. A red card for Jamie Reynolds made the Ambers task even more difficult, and delighted most of the one thousand and seventy two in attendance, but the ten men managed to level with six minutes to go, Dejon Noel-Williams with the equaliser. That was that- the Rocks in seventh, the Ambers a point above the bottom four.

Hashtag United were the hosts for eighth place Carshalton Athletic. The Tags had followed a magnificent December with one win from nine since the start of the year, whilst Athletic had seen a dramatic improvement in their form but had only a point from their previous two so needed more if they were to challenge for a play off place, and they went ahead on sixteen minutes, Luke Read scoring the first goal of our Premier afternoon. It was two-nil eight minutes before half time, Joseph Bell with the second, but the Tags gave themselves hope when Misha Djemaili pulled a goal back on the hour, and that hope was fulfilled when the same player equalised a minute from time. Athletic stay eighth, the Tags are twelfth.

Finally, Haringey Borough were the hosts for Whitehawk. Borough had only two wins from ten, and have gone five without a win; whilst the Hawks ended a three match losing streak when they defeated Cheshunt in midweek. It was the hosts who made the breakthrough, J’Ardell Sterling nine minutes into the second half, but the Hawks levelled seven minutes from time, Charlie Lambert with the goal. That was how it ended, Borough five points from safety.

Matches at Enfield Town and Folkestone Invicta were sadly postponed.

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