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Ryman North: Hornchurch and Jimmy McFarlane are prepared and ready for play-offs

PUBLISHED: 15:00 21 April 2017

Hornchurch manager Jimmy McFarlane (pic: George Phillipou/TGS Photo)

Hornchurch manager Jimmy McFarlane (pic: George Phillipou/TGS Photo)

©TGS Photo tgsphoto.co.uk +44 1376 553468

Urchins host Bowers & Pitsea this weekend before doing battle with Thurrock on Wednesday night

Hornchurch boss Jimmy McFarlane is hoping his team will have two more games to play after their match with sixth-placed Bowers & Pitsea in Ryman North tomorrow (Saturday).

Urchins are guaranteed a spot in the play-offs and know they will face Thurrock, but both clubs are still vying to finish third and claim home advantage for Wednesday’s game with one league fixture remaining.

Monday’s 1-0 defeat at Aveley saw Hornchurch drop to fourth, but a win over Bowers would see them leapfrog Thurrock if Fleet fail to pick up all three points at already relegated Wroxham this weekend.

But regardless of whether Urchins are at home or away in Wednesday’s play-off semi-final, McFarlane is excited and determined to see them triumph, before doing the same again in the final on Sunday week.

He said: “We could have done with an easier game on Saturday. We have had horrendous injuries all season and now we seem to be getting everyone back, so I would have liked to have faced another side.

“I like Bowers and think they are a good team and they have had a great year, so it is one more league fixture to go and what will be, will be. I’m just hoping we have two more games after Saturday and we can win them both – that’s my aim.”

Hornchurch are no strangers to play-off games, in particular against Thurrock having won 2-0 at Ship Lane last April.

Goals from George Purcell and Junior Luke sent Urchins through to the play-off final where they suffered a 3-1 loss at Harlow Town.

After bouncing back impressively this season, Hornchurch will have no fear about Wednesday’s clash, but McFarlane would like it to take place at Bridge Avenue.

“I would love to get third and home advantage for our fans and for the club, but if we get fourth, so be it,” said McFarlane, who successfully guided Urchins through the Ryman Premier play-offs in 2012.

“It is Thurrock either way and there is only a few miles between the clubs, so whoever does travel hasn’t got to go far.”

Another close contest is expected on Wednesday night with very little separating Hornchurch and Mark Stimson’s Fleet this season.

Thurrock have 86 points – one more than Urchins – and a better goal difference of plus-43 compared to plus-39 for the Bridge Avenue outfit.

But that could all change again this weekend and Hornchurch will not have it easy against Bowers, who still have a faint chance of fifth place.

If Haringey pick up a point at home to Norwich United they will guarantee a play-off semi-final tie against Maldon & Tiptree, but if the north Londoners were to lose and Bowers won at Bridge Avenue then they would sneak in.

Hornchurch’s focus is only on themselves, however, and they will want three strong performances and positive results between now and April 30.

After two seasons out of the Ryman Premier, they are desperate for a return. McFarlane added: “Whether we are home or away on Wednesday, we know it is going to be tough and Thurrock are a very good side.

“I think the difference between them from last year and now is they have added more experience, so it’s going to be difficult.

“But they know they are going to be in for a tough game, so it is going to be tough for both of us, but it will be enjoyable.”

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