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Hornchurch boss hopeful of progress

Hornchurch manager Jim McFarlane and Rickie Hayles (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO) Hornchurch manager Jim McFarlane and Rickie Hayles (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)

By George Sessions
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
9:00 AM

McFarlane: We’ll respect Kingstonian, but fear nobody

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Hornchurch manager Jimmy McFarlane will give Kingstonian the respect they deserve in the Ryman Premier Division play-off semi-final tomorrow.

But he is backing the brilliant away form of his team to see them through to another showpiece final.

Urchins have qualified for finals in their previous two seasons and won on both occasions: they defeated Grays in the Essex Senior Cup last year and Lowestoft in the Ryman League play-off final in 2011/12.

McFarlane’s team could face Lowestoft again should they find a way past the K’s at Kingsmeadow Stadium, as the Trawler Boys host Bognor in the other semi-final.

But the Hornchurch boss does not fear any side and said: “It is a one-off game and our away form has been brilliant for three years.

“It was fantastic in our promotion year (2011/12) and last year in the Conference South our away form was better than our home form, so I won’t fear going anywhere.

“In play-offs it is a cup final, a one-off. I’ve been there and I had a little philosophy two years ago and I’ll take it into this one.

“We will give Kingstonian the respect they are due but you can’t take a point in a play-off game so we will be going there to win.”

Hornchurch and the K’s played out a goalless draw in November, while George Purcell gave Urchins an early lead in March before they were held to a 1-1 draw.

Although McFarlane felt his side should have won the most recent meeting, he conceded both results were fair.

“The game should have been over at half-time down there in March,” he said. “But it wasn’t and then second half they absolutely dominated, so probably two fair results.”

Wednesday’s clash will see two heavyweight strike forces go head-to-head.

Urchins boast Purcell and Stefan Payne, who have combined for 57 league goals this year, and Kingstonian have Andre McCollin (27) and Ryan Moss (25).

But although the goals from those forwards have earned their sides a play-off berth, McFarlane chose to praise central defender Rickie Hayles who will be tasked with handling Kingstonian’s dangerous duo.

He said: “The best player on the park against Met Police, and he has been the best player all year, was Rickie Hayles.

“He was absolutely faultless again. Every one of my players has had bad games this season, but he hasn’t.

“When you think ‘Rickie is off a bit today’, he isn’t having a bad game, he is just having an ordinary game (compared to his high standards).

“I don’t want to take nothing away from Elliot Styles, though, who has had a fantastic season.”

McFarlane does have an injury concern over Styles, who was replaced on Saturday due to an ankle injury, but the skipper is likely to shake that off and will hope to lead Urchins into another final.

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