Smith strikes again as Rocks hold Hornchurch

Scorer Dan Smith on the attack for the Rocks at Hornchurch / Picture by Tommy McMillan
Scorer Dan Smith on the attack for the Rocks at Hornchurch / Picture by Tommy McMillan

The Rocks remain unbeaten after securing a draw away to AFC Hornchurch thanks to a 37th minute goal from in-form Dan Smith - his fourth goal in the past three games.

Keaton Wood failed a late fitness test after he suffered a twinge in his hamstring and it is unlikely he will feature at the Lewes Bank Holiday Monday game as well. Corey Heath replaced the injured Wood to get his first start for around a whole year.

A heavy downpour hit the Hornchurch Stadium just before kick-off. In the opening exchanges, Archie Edwards’ ball inside the box almost found Harvey Whyte but he was shut down by Alex Bentley.

Bradley Lethbridge ran on to the attack after George Purcell lost the ball in a Hornchurch advance but his shot was blocked. George Saunders whipped the ball towards the Bognor goal but Calvin Davies managed to hook it off the line on 12 minutes. Hornchurch headed out a Davies free-kick as Heath lurked.

Bentley’s throw found Nathan Livings who played it back to Bentley but his cross hit the side netting on 18 minutes. Davies crossed for Jimmy Muitt who diverted it back out and Whyte latched on to it, rounded a couple of players but shot well wide.

Sean Marks struck one wide before Davies spun another cross high and wide from the right following good play from Whyte on 24 minutes. Livings smashed a chance off target on the volley following Bentley’s cross.

Bognor should have scored on 33 minutes when Tommy Block’s pass found Smith, who rounded the goalkeeper before crossing the ball into the area - but no other Bognor player wasn with him and it was headed away. Muitt combined with Doug Tuck but Muitt's cross was cleared by Nathan Cooper.

Smith committed Callum Chafer into a decent save. Whyte and Lethbridge combined before Smith got a shot away. The resulting corner found Smith, who headed it goalwards and a mix-up between the goalkeeper and Cooper saw the ball spilled and bounce in.

Dan Lincoln almost made the same mistake moments later before Lethbridge smashed low and wide down the other end. Muitt also smashed another chance over the bar.

Brad Warner struck a shot wide when it seemed easier to get it on target before he committed Lincoln into a save. At the other end Chafer denied Smith after a Muitt pass before Lethbridge scuffed wide from a tight angle. HT 0-1

Purcell's shot committed Lincoln into a fine save and Connor Hogan shot high and wide from the resulting corner. Chafer denied Smith again following good work from Lethbridge and Whyte.

On 49 minutes Warner's corner led to a melee in the box saw Lincoln stranded - the ball fell to Marks, who rolled it over the line on 49 minutes. Bognor responded well and Lethbridge, Tuck and Whyte were all involved in a move before Muitt's shot was just wide.

Muitt found Lethbridge but his shot was blocked. Livings went into the book for a late challenge on Davies as tempers flared. New recruit Mason Walsh replaced Lethbridge on 67 minutes. Heath was replaced by Tommy Scutt on 70 minutes.

Muitt cut inside before firing over the bar with his left-footed strike. Marks was replaced by Leon McKenzie for the hosts on 74 minutes and Purcell was replaced by Theo Fairweather-Johnson.

Tuck found Walsh on the back post but Jay Porter did just enough to divert the ball away. Lincoln punched away Saunders's corner on 82 minutes as the Bognor defence were stretched.

A neat pass from Scutt saw Smith smack a shot at goal which forced Chafer into a diving save.

Fairweather-Johnson got a touch on a through ball before Lincoln denied him. The ball bounced out off the striker and out of play in a brave piece of goalkeeping.

Hornchurch could have scored right at the death when McKenzie beat Block and after appearing to push the midfielder over, his strike was well stopped by Lincoln. Bognor played with ten men for much of the last few minutes as Chad Field received treatment for a head injury off the pitch but the final whistle went after five minutes of stoppage time.

Manager Jack Pearce was clearly not happy with his team's performance following the game as the players sat on the pitch and received what looked a heated reaction from the Bognor boss. Bognor travel to Lewes on Bank Holiday Monday (3pm).

The point at Hornchurch leaves the Rocks fifth with two wins and two draws from their opening four games.

Rocks: Lincoln, Davies, Edwards, Tuck, Field, Heath (Scutt 69), Whyte, Block, Smith, Muitt, Lethbridge (Walsh 64). Subs not used: Sparks, Ridge.