Bostik North: Easter rain can’t stop Hornchurch’s title charge and they can secure promotion next week
PUBLISHED: 17:30 03 April 2018
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After the heavy rain that poured down for most of the week, we expected to have a blank Easter weekend, but, come Saturday, our pitch was in excellent condition for the visit of title chasing Potters Bar Town.
We got off to a good start when Kenzer Lee reacted quickly to place the ball into the net after the visiting goalkeeper was unable to hold a hard George Purcell free kick.
It was just as well that we did get the early lead as we spent much of the second half having to defend as the visitors controlled the midfield and continually came forward.
Our defence rose to the occasion, to the extent that Sam Mott in goal was rarely troubled. Potters Bar had several chances to score, in particular with four free kicks just outside the area, all of which went sailing over our defensive wall and then high over the bar.
With more rain on Sunday we anticipated that our match at Brentwood would not go ahead, but credit to the Brentwood officials, they contacted Aveley FC and switched the match to the 3G surface at the new Aveley ground.
Their decision paid dividends, as only three games were able to take place, and two of those were at Aveley, who entertained Canvey later in the afternoon.
Brentwood was rewarded with the best league attendance of the season, over double their average, although the vast majority of the crowd were decked out in red and white rather than the sky blue of Brentwood.
And that is about the only reward they got, as Hornchurch swept into an early two-goals lead and always looked more than capable of increasing the score.
Our acting manager, Colin McBride, with Jimmy McFarlane standing on the terraces just behind the Hornchurch dug-out, made several changes to the side that had beaten Potters Bar two days before, and goals from Tobi Joseph and Nathan Cooper gave us an excellent start - two goals up, with only five minutes on the clock.
We then lost Tobi, who limped off, and his replacement, George Purcell, was quickly in action, with a spectacular goal from almost forty yards, when he gained possession close to the touchline and then sent the ball curling into the far corner of the net.
Chris Assombalonga, starting the match in George’s normal number ten position, then proceeded to emulate Purcell, when he ran through from the half way line and then powerfully crashed the ball into the net from thirty yards out, although his obvious delight led to a yellow card for over-celebrating - but who can blame him?
Four up at the interval, the second half saw two more goals, both from Assombalonga, the first an excellent header from a Brad Warner cross, and the second a gift, when a defender inexplicably passed the ball to Chris, who was standing just in front of an empty net.
Brentwood managed a consolation goal with the very last kick of the match, to leave Hornchurch ten points ahead at the top of the table, with six matches left to play. Our nearest rivals, Potters Bar, also managed to play and they won 4-1 at Ware to keep their own promotion hopes alive.
And Aveley FC must be more than pleased with their own ground being so much in demand, especially with the bar takings as Hornchurch’s supporters celebrated long after the match had finished.
This Saturday we entertain Heybridge Swifts, who at the moment occupy the last available play-off position, but they have matches in hand of all the clubs above them, though they are handicapped by having to play three matches a week in order to catch up with their fixture backlog, caused partly by lengthy cup runs earlier in the season, and more recently by a string of postponements due to the weather.
We won 2-0 at Heybridge in January, with Brad Warner getting two first half goals. Since then, they have signed Matt Price, who scored for Brentwood against us in January, and who has scored 34 goals this season. They have also signed Tambeson Eyong, who made 190 appearances in his six seasons at Hornchurch.
We are back on the road on Tuesday next, when we travel to Cheshunt, the original fixture having been postponed due to snow.
With six matches left to play, we have 89 points. The most that any of our other promotion-chasers can achieve is 97 points, assuming that Bowers win all their remaining games, and Potters Bar can end up with 94 points, again if they win everything. So, with two teams going up, we need six points from our last six games to ensure promotion, and nine points to end up as champions.