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A Happy Christmas, before Boxing Day blow

PUBLISHED: 15:00 28 December 2017

Matthias Fanimo netted in Hornchurch's win over Bury Town (pic Mick Kearns/TGS Photo)

Matthias Fanimo netted in Hornchurch's win over Bury Town (pic Mick Kearns/TGS Photo)

©TGS Photo tgsphoto.co.uk +44 1376 553468

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Christmas did not quite turn out the way we hoped it would.

We had a comfortable win over Bury Town on the last Saturday before December 25, when our first-half performance was more than enough to secure the points.

Leon McKenzie gave us a 10th-minute lead with his 10th goal of the season and Nathan Livings scored his first goal since joining us from Harlow Town, when he followed up after Olumide Oluwatimilihin had seen his shot cannon back off the crossbar.

Olumide is another recent addition to our squad and joined a few weeks ago after being a regular in the Whyteleafe side. He was previously with Aveley, and we now have no fewer than 227 players who have represented both clubs.

Two minutes into the second half Matthias Fanimo gained possession just inside the Bury half, and left defenders trailing before neatly gliding the ball past the keeper and into the net.

And then it seemed that enough was enough and we sat back and allowed Bury to come more into the game as an attacking force.

But apart from one shot that came back off the post, our defence was rarely under threat.

Then it all went wrong. Our match at Ship Lane against Romford had been put back to the Wednesday, not a popular move for many of our supporters. It meant that all the teams at the top of the table had already played the previous day and the pressure was on us to maintain our five-point lead at the top.

We well remember last season when the match at Aveley kicked off in the evening, when all the other results were already known, and the pressure proved too much. We not only lost by the only goal of the game, but we also conceded home advantage for the play-offs.

Had the Romford game been played when it should have been there would have been no problems, as the weather was (relatively) mild.

But rain overnight turned to snow, and it was no surprise when there was an early pitch inspection, followed by the inevitable postponement. All of which means that we now only have a two-point lead at the top.

This Saturday we make the short trip to Mayesbrook Park to play Barking, who last season won promotion from the Essex Senior League, and who are now on the fringe of the play-offs, despite a surprising 2-0 home defeat against Witham on Tuesday.

We have met Barking on almost 50 occasions, the first time being in 1956 when we met them in the Amateur Cup.

It took three matches to decide who would progress into the next round, as the first game ended level at 1-1, and the replay also finished 1-1 after extra time (none of these ridiculous penalty shoot outs back then!). The third match had only one goal, and it was Barking who scored it.

But we have to go back to 2002 for the last time we met them, at a time when they were known as Barking & East Ham.

We drew 1-1 at Mayesbrook Park, our goal coming from Chris Wolff, and we won the return match 5-1, with goals from Kevin Marsden, Andy Martin, Chris Moore, and two from Vinnie John.

Well over 100 players have at one time represented both clubs, and they have two of our ex-players in their squad, Abs Seymour, who played for us last season, making 20 appearances in total, and Martin Tuohy, who joined them last week. Martin played 218 times for Hornchurch, scoring 84 goals.

Our next home game, weather permitting, is against Brentwood Town on New Year’s Day, with a 3pm kick off.

We played Brentwood twice last season, drawing 2-2 at home, with our goals coming from David Knight and Ricky Freeman. In the return match a McKenzie penalty proved to be the only goal of the game.

Brentwood’s Christmas fixture was against Tilbury, but, like our game, it was put back to the Wednesday, and, also like our game, it met the same fate, with Brentwood under a carpet of snow.

They are in 19th place in the table, with six wins and four draws in their 21 games, but cannot be taken lightly, with Matt Price their leading scorer with an impressive 17 goals. And he also plays with the number 17 on his back, so our task will be to keep him on 17, at least for one more match.

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