Hornchurch pick up maximum points over the Bank Holiday
PUBLISHED: 14:00 30 August 2017
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Two matches over the Bank Holiday and two wins, one in the league and one in the FA Cup for the Urchins.
It was in December 2015 that Tobi Joseph suffered a badly broken leg, in two places, against Bury.
It is fitting that twenty months later he made his first start for Hornchurch since that time - and it is doubly fitting that he marked his comeback with a brace.
Tobi glided the ball home for our opening goal, but Bury replied when a free kick from the right wing ended up in the net, sparking off a very close and, at least for the neutral, entertaining first half.
Hornchurch took full control when, nine minutes into the second half, Brad Warner converted a George Purcell cross, and Bury had no answer as Joseph and Theo Fariweather-Johnson added further goals in a very one-sided 45 minutes.
The report on Bury’s own web site neatly summed up the Hornchurch performance - strong at the back, quick in midfield and deadly up front.
It was also a milestone at Bury for Alex Bentley, who was playing his 200th game for Hornchurch.
Alex made his debut at Salisbury in 2012 and has been ever-present since then, apart from two spells on the sidelines with long term injuries.
Ironically he also limped off at Bury, but hopefully he will be back quickly this time.
Two days later, on Bank Holiday Monday, we encountered heat wave conditions for the visit of Romford, and for the entire first half our forwards struggled to find a way through a nine-man defence, and the uncompromising tackling meant that the referee reached for his yellow card all too often.
The second half was a much different story, when three goals in the space of eight minutes destroyed the visiting defence.
The final score was 4-1 although it could easily have been a lot more, and Hornchurch are now sitting at the top of the table, level on points with Heybridge Swifts and Dereham Town, neither of whom were tipped to be in the top half.
It is very much of a surprise to find three of the clubs tipped to challenge for promotion - Cheshunt, Sudbury and Maldon & Tiptree - occupying the bottom places, but time will tell.
We now look forward to our next match, which is on Sunday in the F.A. Cup at Ship Lane, Thurrock, where we again meet Romford, with a 3pm kick off.
Last season our cup campaign began on at Aveley’s Mill Field, now very much a building site, and the only goal of the game came from Abs Thompson, who took full advantage of a dreadful back pass to slide the ball home.
Our cup run did not last long, as we then travelled to a very wet Wellingborough, where Rushden & Diamonds were ground sharing, having lost their old Nene Park ground.
A George Purcell free kick was deflected against the inside of the post, and scrambled to safety, but that was about the sum total of any Hornchurch threat, as Diamonds took control in the second half, and were good value for their two goal win.
Hornchurch had their best ever Cup run in 2003, when we entertained Darlington in the first round proper, before a crowd of 2,186. Hornchurch won convincingly with goals from Steve West and Vinnie John, to set up a second round home tie with Tranmere Rovers.
The crowd was an all-ticket 3,500 and the match was televised. Tranmere won with the only goal of the game, but television replays later showed that there appeared to be nothing wrong with the Vinnie John goal that was controversially ruled out, and that Hornchurch were denied what seemed a clear-cut penalty.
We reached the first round the following season, and travelled to Boston Utd.
Our season however was almost destroyed when the backers pulled out for financial reasons, and we had to assemble a new team at very short notice.
Nine players made their debut in this match, and a goal by Steve Castle gave Hornchurch an early lead, which they held until half time.
Boston took advantage of a red card for Simon Downer to go into a 3-1 lead, but with just nine minutes to go, Terry Everett pulled a goal back to make the score 3-2.
With a player short they could not sustain the come back and eventually lost 5-2. With a touch of irony, even had they won, they would have still exited the competition, as Shane Huke, one of the debutants, had already played in the FA Cup whilst on loan from Peterborough Utd to Cambridge City.
The programme for the Boston Utd match listed 32 names in the Hornchurch squad, though such was the confusion at the time, eight of those who did play were not listed in the programme.
The eventual line up was Baruwa, Clancy, Deen, Popovic, Downer, Castle, Penn, Shipp, Huke, Sigere, Douglas, Locke, Peters, Everett, Shepherd, McShane.
Our last appearance in the first round proper was in 2008, when we were at home to Peterborough.
Temporary stands were erected at both ends of the ground, and a crowd of 2,990 witnessed a tense match, settled by a goal for the visitors in the final minute, following a defensive error.
Colin McBride was manager, our current manager, Jim McFarlane, played in that match, and two of our current team were also in the squad - needless to say, Elliot Styles was one of them, playing in midfield, and the other was Ross Wall who was in the squad as substitute.
It is a long way to the first round, but we hope to take another step along the route at Ship Lane this coming Sunday.