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Hornchurch manager Jim McFarlane blasts Ryman League over lengthy away days over New Year period,

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Hornchurch boss Jimmy McFarlane has described the decision to hand his men long-distance trips to Bury Town and Lowestoft Town over the New Year period as “farcical”.

The fixtures for the new Ryman Premier campaign were published on Wednesday as the Urchins drop back into the division following one season in the Conference South.

They can at least look forward to a home game against local rivals Billericay on Boxing Day.

But they are then forced to travel into Suffolk for games at Bury and Lowestoft on December 28 and January 1 – clocking up over 360 miles in the process – and their manager just can’t see the logic of it.

“The ludicrous thing for me is that we’ve got to go to Lowestoft on New Year’s Day, which I think is farcical when we’ve just been to Bury St Edmunds,” said McFarlane.

“You’ve got Grays, East Thurrock, Billericay and Canvey Island on our doorstep and yet they give us the furthest trip. I can’t work it out – the Bank Holiday fixtures used to be about local derbies.”

Hornchurch commence the new season with a home game against Lewes on August 10, followed by trips to Margate on Aug 13 and Cray Wanderers four days later.

And McFarlane certainly believes the opening sequence could have been a little kinder to his team.

He said: “It’s tough, tough, tough! Our first seven games are all against sides looking to finish in and around the play-offs.

“It’s just up to us to make sure we’re ready.”

Meanwhile, the Urchins are hoping to sign a new goalkeeper in the coming days following the sudden defection of Joe Woolley, who recently jumped ship to head to Australia.

Former West Ham scholar Sam Baxter and Matt Allick, who has recently played in Norway, appeared on a trial basis in the 2-0 friendly win at Witham Town on Tuesday.

Ashlee Jones trained with the club last week, before heading to Lowestoft while an unnamed Spanish keeper joined the squad yesterday (Thursday).

McFarlane said: “The young lad Baxter was very impressive and we’ll take another look at him at Dover on Saturday. Allick also did well and we’ll see how the Spanish guy does.”

■ Romford boss Paul Martin insists he has no problem with being sent to Needham Market when his campaign kicks off.

He said: “I am happy because I wanted one of the long trips out of the way early. We took four points off them last season and are unbeaten at their ground in two seasons, so we will look forward to that.”

Romford follow up with home games against Waltham Forest on Wednesday Aug 14 and Waltham Abbey on Saturday Aug 17.

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