All change in Ryman North, but Hornchurch head to Thurrock eyeing promotion
PUBLISHED: 12:00 25 April 2017
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We went into our final league match of the season knowing that we needed to beat Bowers & Pitsea, while hoping that Thurrock lost at Wroxham, if we were to have home advantage in the play-off semi final.
Neither happened, so we now have to play at Thurrock. The winners of that match will either travel to Maldon & Pitsea for the final, or be at home to Haringey Borough, depending on who wins the other semi.
We started brightly against Bowers on Saturday, and our leading scorer Leon McKenzie gave us an early lead, against a team that included two ex-Urchins in their starting line up, David Knight, and Ayrton Coley.
We took the lead when Teddy Nesbitt was fouled midway inside the Bowers half out on the left side of the pitch.
Alex Bentley floated the free kick into the middle, where McKenzie beat Guest to score his 37th goal of the season.
Warner headed Bowers level, and two goals shortly after half time left Bowers in a commanding position that they never looked like conceding, and it was no surprise when Warner added his second goal of the match seven minutes from time.
Bowers became the only team to have beaten Hornchurch twice this season. Hornchurch have achieved the double on seven occasions this season - against Haringey Borough, Thamesmead, Bury, Great Wakering, Norwich Utd, Ware, and Waltham Abbey
Bowers themselves needed to win in order to have any chance of getting into the play-offs, but only if Haringey Borough lost their final game against Norwich Utd.
Bowers kept their side of the bargain, but Haringey scored four minutes from time to secure the last play-off place.
Thurrock in the meantime overcome bottom-of-the-table Wroxham to guarantee them home advantage in the semi final.
Saturday was not a particular good day for another Essex club. Canvey Island needed to beat Sudbury in order to preserve their Isthmian Premier Division status, but with ten minutes left they were two goals down.
Despite scoring twice to level the scores, they could not get what was for them the all-important goal, so they will now play in Division 1 North next season.
Grays Athletic, who were doomed to relegation several weeks ago, and will also play in the lower division next season, whilst coming up from the Essex Senior League will be Barking, so there will once again be a very strong Essex presence.
At the wrong end of the table, Great Wakering return to ESL, but Heybridge Swifts, losing two nil at one stage, scored three second half goals to beat Phoenix Sports, and in so doing, they moved out of the relegation zone, swapping places with Ware, who lost at VCD Athletic.
With Harrow Borough and Sudbury also dropping down from the Premier Division, it seems certain that two of the three Kent-based clubs in the Northern Division will have to switch to the Southern section.
Which in turn will leave Phoenix, VCD or Thamesmead as the only Kentish club in the division.