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Automatic promotion hopes ‘hanging in the balance’ says Hornchurch boss McFarlane

10:57 03 March 2014

AFC Hornchurch manager Jim McFarlane. Pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO

AFC Hornchurch manager Jim McFarlane. Pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO

Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO c/o 27 Plaiters Way, Braintree, Essex, CM7 3LR - Editorial Use ONLY - FA Premier League and Football League images are subject to DataCo Licencing restrictions

Hornchurch manager Jimmy McFarlane admitted that Urchins automatic promotions hopes are hanging in the balance following a home defeat to Grays Athletic at the weekend, despite their rivals for the title also losing.

Ryman Premier Division leaders Dulwich Hamlet lost as did Maidstone United and Kingstonian to leave the title race in the balance.

But Urchins failure to capitalise on those defeats disappointed McFarlane, as did the first half performance from his team.

“That performance, especially first half, was not acceptable by anybody’s standards,” admitted the Hornchurch manager.

“They were a lot keener, sharper, hungrier and clever than us. It was always going to be tough because of our Christmas period where we got poor results. “But as a person I can’t give the title up because if I thought we had no chance of winning anything I don’t think I could do it.

“Everyone else gets beat around you, it is a chance to gain a little bit of ground on them and it is back to the drawing board.

“I just don’t know what it is to get performances on a regular basis out of them. I’ve tried everything.

“I certainly won’t be giving it up and as I say no one at the moment is taking advantage of the inconsistency of everybody else.

“You’d have to make Wealdstone favourites but they are not playing so they can’t be inconsistent.”

Although Hornchurch’s performance was poor they were on the wrong end of some unfortunate decisions by the referee.

Elliot Styles was awarded a questionable penalty against him for an adjudged deliberate handball, whilst various first half decisions even caused the Grays player to shout ‘stop ruining the game’ to the referee.

McFarlane was far from pleased with his performance and was shocked by the penalty decision, adding: “I thought it was horrendous.

“From a yard, on a bobbly pitch? I thought the referee was absolutely incompetent.

“The Non League paper guy can’t believe his performance. They have been in and said what did you make of the referee so I am not making it up.

“But the referee had no effect on our performance at all. I will make that quite clear.”

Hornchurch improved second half but didn’t test opposition keeper Lloyd Anderson enough according to McFarlane.

He did reserve praise for his skipper Elliot Styles, who was at his inspirational best throughout.

McFarlane said: “I thought Elliot Styles was absolutely head and shoulders the best player on the park.

“Even in the second half, where we were the best side by a mile, we created little through quality.

“We were having shots that I could have saved and that is not just the two forwards, that’s everyone.”

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