Ross Wall proving his worth for Hornchurch with impressive goal and assists tally since signing from Ryman North rivals Thurrock
14:00 12 January 2017
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We are now moving into the final third of the season, and the play-offs are looming. We went into the match against Waltham Abbey knowing that a win might take us into the all-important play-off places, and at half time we were beginning to wonder if we were heading for yet another goalless draw.
Hornchurch had dominated the play, had hit the post, seen the visiting goalkeeper make two excellent saves, and, somewhat of a worry, been pulled up for offside on nine occasions.
The breakthrough finally came on 51 minutes when Abs Thompson left his marker trailing, and Ross Wall finished off his cross.
And the clock was still on 51 minutes when Junior Luke played the ball through to Leon McKenzie, who ran forward and glided his shot into the net for the second goal in a matter of thirty seconds.
Jed Chouman wrapped it up with a goal fifteen minutes from the end, thanks to an excellent piece of play from Wall, who provided the opening.
It could easily have been more than three - a McKenzie shot hit the post, and the visiting goalkeeper made two excellent saves to keep the score down.
Manager Jim McFarlane is easing Tobi Joseph back into the squad after his double leg break against Bury a year ago, but no sooner do we get one player back than we lose another.
This time it is Joey May, only recently signed from Canvey Island, who is out with injury, after sustaining ligament damage during a training session. And we are still uncertain when George Purcell and Paul Goodacre will be able to resume.
But one unwanted statistic in the Waltham Abbey game was the number of offside calls against our forwards. Last Saturday there were eleven, most of them marginal, but offside none the less.
Statistics can prove anything, but eleven offside calls in one match only proves that eleven goalscoring chances have been lost.
We hosted Bury Town in the rescheduled match on Tuesday, the original having been postponed due to a heavy frost. We fell behind to a first half own goal, and Bury deserved their interval lead, as they looked very much like a side challenging for the play-offs.
McFarlane was forced into an early substitution when James Morrish had to go off, and Elliot Styles came on, dropping back into the defence with Kenzer Lee moving into midfield.
Jimmy then made an inspired substitution at half time, bringing on Ayrton Coley, with Junior Luke moving to left back. We looked a lot sharper but then fell further behind to a well worked goal on the hour.
This set the scene for a classic come-back - Coley was brought down in the area, and McKenzie added another goal to his already impressive total, and Wall levelled the score three minutes later.
Bury were now struggling to contain our forwards, but the winning goal was created by Kenzer Lee, with a remarkable run from midfield through the defence to set up Wall, whose goal total now stands at ten in just fifteen matches since he signed from Thurrock in October.
Our leading scorer, McKenzie, is now on 23 goals for the season, and Wall, who only joined midway through the season, is on ten. But football is about team work, not just about who puts the ball into the net, but also about who creates the goals.
And in the ‘assist’ stakes, Abs Thompson leads the way with ten to his credit, and Wall has eight assists. And for Wall, ten goals and eight assists in just fifteen matches is a very impressive statistic.
At the other end, our defence has achieved sixteen clean sheets in all matches, fourteen of which are in league games.
With Maldon & Tiptree and Brightlingsea Regent both on good winning runs, we only managed to consolidate our fourth position, but although we trail the leaders by ten points, we are still looking to win the league, rather then gain a place in the play-offs.
The weather forecast is not good for the weekend, but, rain and snow permitting, we travel to Witham on Saturday, and we hope that our excellent away support will help the team to gain another three points.