Bostik North: Hornchurch and Romford in search of silverware in 2018 – in league and cup quests
PUBLISHED: 18:30 18 January 2018
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In an article from our ‘Year in Sport’ pull-out, we look ahead to why Jimmy McFarlane and Paul Martin could both be smiling come the end of the season
Hornchurch and Romford have different ambitions in the Bostik North, but both could finish the 2017-18 campaign with some silverware.
The Urchins have enjoyed a great first half to the season and sit top of the division with 21 wins from 28 fixtures, six points clear of nearest rivals Bowers & Pitsea.
Goals from George Purcell, Brad Warner and Leon McKenzie have helped Jimmy McFarlane’s men move away from the chasing pack and into first place, but a rock-solid defence has played a massive part too.
Sam Mott has kept 13 clean sheets in the league with Alex Bentley, Nathan Cooper, Kenzer Lee, Jay Porter and Jamie Hursit all impressing at the back.
With two clubs guaranteed to go up automatically this campaign – potentially three – Hornchurch will hope to maintain their form and return back to the Premier later this year for the first time since the 2014/2015 term.
Last season they lost 1-0 in the play-off semi-final at Thurrock, with Fleet winning the final and sealing promotion in the process, but McFarlane will be out to avoid the drama of the play-offs this time and go up as champions.
Bowers & Pitsea, Dereham Town and Canvey Island are rivals for first place, but given the Urchins’ stunning form, they will back themselves to remain out in front of the chasing pack.
Romford are at the other end of the table and looking to avoid a bottom-place finish, which would see them return to the Essex Senior League for the first time since 2009.
A string of draws in November boosted the spirits of the Boro, who were struggling at the basement and without a league win since August.
But the 17-match winless run in the Bostik North was ended just before Christmas with a fine 4-2 success at Cheshunt.
It started a run of four wins out of five in the league which has enabled Paul Martin’s team to move off the bottom and build a gap between themselves and the one relegation place available for this season.
While Romford will look to improve on their 16th-place finish in the division last season, in the Essex Senior Cup they are still dreaming of success.
Boro have reached the last four of the county competition for the first time in 41 years and although they visit big-spending Billericay Town in the semi’s, Martin will make sure his players give their all to try and cause another upset and also stay up.