CANVEY Island suffered last-minute heartbreak as former player Chris Bourne came off the bench to give AFC Hornchurch a late leveller in a game in which both sides played for 45 minutes with nine men.
Bourne bundled the ball home in the fifth minute of stoppage time after Rickie Hayles had headed back across goal.
The draw still bumped Hornchurch out of the play-offs but how Canvey would have loved to have inflicted more pain on their Essex rivals.
The game was, as expected, a fiesty affair but no one could have predicted four sendings off.
The Gulls’ Jason Hallett and Frankie Curley were the first to go after a mass brawl involving all 20 outfield players while, on the stroke of half-time, Canvey’s Joe Carter and Stefan Payne were also given their marching orders.
Before all of that, Canvey had gone ahead when Rob Bartley volleyed home after Carter’s corner had been headed back into the danger zone.
John Sands looked lively for the hosts and had already gone close to scoring before Bartley’s opener, while Josh Vickers in the Canvey goal had to be on good form to keep the Urchins out.
With Hornchuch desperately needing the points in their bid to return to the Conference South, they threw everything at the Gulls in the second half with Vickers having to make good saves from Hayles and George Purcell, while Dave Rainsford headed a great chance over for the visitors.
Canvey thought they had soaked up all that pressure until the dying seconds when Bourne converted.