Bostik North: Colin McBride happy with hard-fought Canvey Island win in front of recovering Hornchurch boss Jimmy McFarlane

PUBLISHED: 14:00 15 March 2018

Hornchurch assistant Colin McBride (left) and Dave Collis give instructions at Bridge Avenue (pic: George Phillipou/TGS Photo).

Hornchurch assistant Colin McBride (left) and Dave Collis give instructions at Bridge Avenue (pic: George Phillipou/TGS Photo).

©TGS Photo +44 1376 553468

The Urchins assistant likened the current squad at Bridge Avenue to his old Purfleet team after Saturday’s 1-0 victory over the Gulls

Jimmy McFarlane, manager of Hornchurch, attended the game against Canvey just weeks after suffering a stroke (pic George Phillipou/TGS Photo)Jimmy McFarlane, manager of Hornchurch, attended the game against Canvey just weeks after suffering a stroke (pic George Phillipou/TGS Photo)

Colin McBride can see plenty of similarities between the current Hornchurch team and his old successful Purfleet side.

The Urchins assistant is handling first-team affairs while manager Jimmy McFarlane recovers after suffering a stroke on February 19 and recorded his first Bostik North victory in charge last week.

An 85th minute header from Theo Fairweather-Johnson saw Hornchurch claim a 1-0 win over promotion rivals Canvey Island on Saturday and it brought back memories for McBride.

He was manager of Purfleet, now-named Thurrock, between 1997 and 2006 and led the Essex club to various successes before he moved to Bridge Avenue.

When reflecting on Saturday’s win over the Gulls, McBride said: “It’s funny because Dave Collis has been back with us since Jim’s illness and he was part of our Thurrock team along with Jim and back then when we went 1-0 up we never lost and this side is very similar.

“The base of the side is full of players who are good defenders, but at this level they are great defenders so that bodes well for next season.

“We know our defenders are good enough to play in the league above and it is really pleasing to see a team defend correctly and that’s what this lot do.

“We didn’t show as much quality as we can on Saturday, but you couldn’t knock the effort and commitment of the players.”

Hornchurch’s victory was all the sweeter because it was in front of boss McFarlane, who continues to make great strides on his road to recovery.

Hornchurch team-mates Nathan Livings and Elliot Styles battle for the ball against Canvey (pic George Phillipou/TGS Photo)Hornchurch team-mates Nathan Livings and Elliot Styles battle for the ball against Canvey (pic George Phillipou/TGS Photo)

Saturday was only Urchins second game since their manager suffered a stroke, with the bad weather forcing several fixtures to be postponed.

The Bridge Avenue club only have nine matches left to play and hold an 11-point advantage over nearest rival Bowers & Pitsea, though Rob Small’s team do have one game in hand.

Nevertheless, it is looking good for Hornchurch and their long-serving manager too. McBride added: “The hospital have been amazed at what Jim has done and they are pleased with him.

“He has two different people coming out every day to help with his rehab and they have been amazed by the strides he has made so far.

“We talk for a couple of hours each day and it will take time, but to be fair I think I’m worse than him at the moment!”

Fairweather-Johnson grabbed the winner for Hornchurch, two minutes after coming on, and McBride was delighted for the substitute.

He added: “Theo has done really well for us all season. He has had to play out of position at times, especially at the start when he was in midfield, but when we put him up top he couldn’t stop scoring.

“At the weekend he had a bit of a knock, so that’s why he was on the bench, but it was a really well taken goal.

“I’ve watched it back a few times and I’m pleased with so many things. The ball is clipped behind the full-back, it isn’t just a hoof forward, it is clipped behind and Brad (Warner) waits and waits and delivers a near inch perfect cross.

“Theo still has work to do and directed it perfectly and he is a really intelligent player and another who we will look at for next season and know he can make the step up.”

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