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Hornchurch facing ‘biggest test yet’

11:59 17 February 2014

Hornchurch manager Jim McFarlane looks on during his side's win over Leiston (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)

Hornchurch manager Jim McFarlane looks on during his side's win over Leiston (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

McFarlane prepared for Wealdstone clash

Hornchurch manager Jimmy McFarlane has admitted tonight’s Ryman Premier Division clash against Wealdstone is their biggest game of the season so far.

Fourth-placed Urchins travel to The Vale to face third-placed Stones in a potentially pivotal match, knowing a win would see them leapfrog their rivals.

But McFarlane believes tonight’s opposition are the best in the division, saying: “I think they are the best side in the league. That will sound funny considering we beat them 6-1 in the cup, but that was one of those days where everything went wrong for them and right for us.

“Gordon (Bartlett) has put together a really experienced team and they’ve done well this season.

“It is a massive game. Biggest game of the season so far? Yeah without doubt.”

As can sometimes be the case with such crunch clashes, the fear of losing turns a predicted thriller into a dull stalemate.

McFarlane hopes this does not happen, but did wonder if Wealdstone being used to playing on Monday nights – this will be the fifth time they have this season – could play a part.

He added: “Sometimes with these games you get some negativity where the two teams cancel each other out or don’t want to lose.

“It is a game both teams don’t want to lose, but also one we would both like to win.

“At Thurrock we played a lot on Mondays and got used to it, so that could be seen as an advantage to them, they are more used to it than us.

“Fitness isn’t a problem though, we have been training all throughout these postponements and we have pretty much everyone fit.”

Wealdstone boast experienced duo Glen Little and Scott McGleish in their ranks, but Hornchurch have hotshots Stefan Payne and George Purcell in sensational form.

The Urchins pair were in the goals again at the weekend with Payne bagging a brace and Purcell scoring in a 4-2 home win over Leiston.

McFarlane praised his strike duo and acknowledged it as the “perfect Saturday” for Hornchurch.

“The two are just brilliant at the moment,” he said.

“People keep telling me they can’t play together but for each of their goals they set each other up.

“They’ve both scored so many, Stefan’s got 25 now and you know if one doesn’t score the other definitely will.”

Promotion rivals Dulwich, Maidstone and Kingstonian all lost at the weekend, which also pleased the Hornchurch boss.

He added: “It was a perfect Saturday, apart from Wealdstone winning at Thamesmead.

“The chairman said to me at half time they were all losing and at full time told me they all had except for Wealdstone, which was brilliant.”

Conditions at Bridge Avenue were not the best, with wind playing a major part, but McFarlane hailed the performance of his side.

“To score four goals was really pleasing, especially considering conditions, which I think played a part in their second goal,” he said.

“Inigo (Echepare) had been fantastic first half and would normally have claimed it, but wind took the ball away from him.

“It was a fantastic performance considering the pitch and conditions; I was really pleased with boys.”

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