Seventh-tier Hornchurch came from behind to beat National League North Hereford 3-1 and claim a maiden Buildbase FA Trophy triumph at Wembley.
Tom Owen-Evans finished off a well-worked set-piece move early on to put Hereford in front, as Josh Gowling’s men controlled much of the opening 45 minutes.
But Hornchurch were much improved after the break and substitute Charlie Ruff levelled terms, before late Liam Nash and Ellis Brown goals sealed a dramatic win for the Urchins.
While Hereford fell short on the five-year anniversary of Buildbase FA Vase heartbreak, victory for Mark Stimson’s men completed a remarkable Buildbase FA Trophy campaign that had seen Hornchurch knock out Notts County in the semi-finals.
FT: Hereford 1, Hornchurch 3. Unbelievable. Thanks for the incredible support.— Hornchurch FC (@HornchurchFC) May 22, 2021
It was a fast start at football HQ as both teams looked to gain the upper hand in the early stages, with Nash shooting at goalkeeper Brandon Hall for Hornchurch moments after Hereford’s Michael Bakare was denied by a last-ditch tackle.
The Bulls gradually grew in confidence and Bakare’s eighth-minute cross just evaded Joey Butlin who had his eyes set on goal, but it wasn’t long before Gowling’s charges got their noses in front.
A cleverly-worked corner routine saw the ball spread to Owen-Evans on the edge of the area, and his controlled strike took a wicked deflection before rolling past Joe Wright to make it 1-0 in the 13th minute.
Butlin went close to doubling Hereford’s advantage 14 minutes later with a header from Kyle Finn’s deep cross, but Mickey Parcell did just enough to put the 28-year-old off at the back post.
The momentum of the game was seemingly swaying in Hereford’s favour, and Bakare attempted an audacious chip that sailed over shortly before the half-hour mark.
As the interval neared Chris Camwell saw his free-kick well saved by Wright, after Rickie Hayles had gifted Hereford the chance by bringing down Butlin who had dispossessed the Urchins defender.
There was a bright end to the opening 45 minutes for Hornchurch though as Christou broke through one-on-one with Hall before being penalised for a foul on Luke Haines, and Brown flicked a long throw goalwards.
Hornchurch continued where they left off following the restart and Christou went close with a fast-reaction shot after some neat play by Sam Higgins.
Hereford offered a reminder of their quality soon after with Parcell having to be alert to steer a teasing Finn ball to safety, before Bulls skipper Jared Hodgkiss headed over soon after.
But the Urchins kept fighting and substitutes Chris Dickson and Ruff combined well soon after being introduced, with the latter eventually shooting tamely into Hall’s hands.
With less than 20 minutes to go Nash thought he had snatched an equaliser after chipping over Hall, only for Hodgkiss to clear the ball off the line to keep his team in front.
But seconds later the goal did arrive, Ruff reacting quickest after Jamie Grimes headed onto his own crossbar from Christou’s long throw.
Hereford reacted well with Finn and Bakare both having shots at goal, but Nash edged Hornchurch in front with a close-range effort four minutes from time.
And as Hereford pushed forward with hopes of staying in the game Brown found space down the right flank, evading Haines and eventually shooting past Hall to put the result beyond doubt.
Hereford FC: Brandon Hall, Lewis Butroid, Chris Camwell, Jared Hodgkiss (c), Jamie Grimes, Joey Butlin, Tom Owen-Evans, Kyle Finn, Luke Haines, Michael Bakare, Ryan Lloyd
Substitutes: James McQuilkin for Camwell 74’, Maziar Kouhyar for Finn 88’, Yan Klukowski for Bakare 90’
Substitutes not used: Kennedy Digie, Ben Pollock, Paul White, Dylan Jones
Goal: Owen-Evans 13’
Hornchurch: Joe Wright, Rickie Hayles, Remi Sutton, Oliver Muldoon, Mickey Parcell, Ellis Brown, Jordan Clark, Lewwis Spence (c), Joe Christou, Sam Higgins, Liam Nash
Substitutes: Charlie Ruff for Spence 59’, Chris Dickson for Higgins 60’, Charlie Stimson for Nash 90’
Substitutes not used: Sak Hassan, Finley Thackway, Ronnie Winn, Nathan Cooper
Goals: Ruff 75’, Nash 86’, Brown 90’