The Ryman Football League
Published 8th May 2012
....home victory over Lowestoft Town in the Ryman League Premier Division play-off final on Bank Holiday Monday. The first 90 minutes were as tight as expected in front of a crowd of 1,411 - both teams had finished the league season on eighty-three points. Defences were generally on top and chances were at a premium.
The hosts had the majority of possession in the first half but the clear chances fell to Lowestoft.
Joe Francis headed over from close range and Chris Henderson broke clear only for his low shot to be kicked away by keeper Joe Woolley.
The game began to open up in the last 20 minutes and Lubo Guentchhev twice struck the Hornchurch bar from 20-yard range, while at the other end Andy Reynolds, who had not been expected to play because of injury, pulled off a double point-blank save from Carl Rook.
In the 90th minute Frankie Curley put a powerful header straight into the arms of Reynolds, and in the final minute of added time Reynolds did well to tip over another Curley header and force an extra 30 minutes.
McKenzie had replaced Rook during added time and it was he who broke the deadlock 4 minutes into extra-time, firing home when an attempt to block a cross teed the ball up nicely for him.
Woollley tipped over a fierce shot by Scott Mitchell as the Trawlerboys tried to respond and they levelled it in the last minute of the first period when Curley conceded a penalty and Dean Sinclair, whose spot-kick deep into added time had won the semi-final, again made no mistake.
Mitchell thought he had given Lowestoft the lead in the 115th minute but Woolley somehow flung himself to his right to claw away the goal-bound header.
A penalty shoot-out looked inevitable but Spencer, making his 150th appearance for Hornchurch, had other ideas. He had replaced Andy Tomlinson near the end of the first extra period and on 119 minutes he found himself in space on the left of the box and drilled his shot wide of Reynolds into the far corner.
Henderson had a chance to save the day for the visitors but he sliced his shot well wide and the Urchins were soon stepping up to receive the trophy from league chairman Alan Turvey.
The result meant that, for the first time since the league introduced play-offs, all three finals were won by the side that finished runners-up in the league.
Hornchurch will be playing in the Blue Square Bet South for the second time. They took part in the inaugural 2004/05 campaign but off-field problems forced them to withdraw at the end of the season.
For Lowestoft it was a second successive defeat in the play-off final.