Ryman North: Jed Chouman helps Hornchurch stay in title race while ex-players Simon Downer and Cowley brothers feature in FA Cup fifth round
PUBLISHED: 13:30 21 February 2017
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When Hornchurch’s Jed Chouman scored what turned out to be the only goal of the match on Saturday, there was a collective sigh of relief.
Soham Town Rangers had rarely offered any kind of threat, but it was beginning to look as though they would hold out for a point.
Teddy Nesbitt had hit the post with a free kick, and Ross Wall and Leon McKenzie had both gone close to opening the score, but as the match progressed, it looked more and more like ending without a goal.
Until Chouman gained possession from a throw and promptly sent in a dipping shot that eluded the Soham goalkeeper.
With the other teams at the top of the table all winning, it was vital not to drop points against a team struggling to avoid relegation, and we did not have a good record against Soham.
So a one goal win was enough to keep the pressure on Maldon & Tiptree, Thurrock and Brightlingsea Regent.
Looking at the remaining fixtures, Maldon have still to play Aveley, Cheshunt and Bury, but the rest of their games are against clubs at the other end of the table.
Brightlingsea have, at least on paper, a more difficult run-in, with matches against Hornchurch, Cheshunt, Thurrock and Bury Town, whilst Thurrock have to play Bowers, Brightlingsea and Cheshunt.
We have still to play Brightlingsea, Aveley and Cheshunt, with our final league match of the season at home to Bowers & Pitsea, and manager Jim McFarlane still has a number of players out with long-term injuries.
On the plus side, Tobi Joseph is now challenging for a place in the starting line up, and Martin Tuohy has rejoined the Urchins, after a spell at Canvey Island.
Tuohy was our leading scorer in three successive seasons, before he was sidelined with an injury that kept him out for most of the following season. In his previous spell at Bridge Avenue, he scored 79 goals in 202 matches.
His scoring rate at Canvey Island is also impressive, having found the net 33 times. So it is welcome back to Tuohy, who came on for the final fifteen minutes against Soham, and could easily have opened his account with two shots, both of which were close but not close enough.
There is no midweek match, and we now travel to Heybridge Swifts on Saturday. Last season we went to Scraley Road on a day when the rain came down in torrents, and the Swifts won with the only goal of the match shortly after half time.
We could only manage a goalless draw when they came to Bridge Avenue in November, and we now face a team who are in a lower mid-table position, but who have recently had some good results.
We are likely to meet up with ex-Urchin Ade Yusuff, who joined the Swifts in December, after two seasons with Dagenham & Redbridge, and who also played one match for Billericay this season.
We always keep a track of players who once played for Hornchurch, but until last Saturday we have never had an ex-player in the sixth round of the F.A. Cup - and now we have two. Danny Cowley, manager of Lincoln City, and Nicky Cowley, his assistant manager.
Danny played 94 times for Hornchurch, and was our player of the season when he won the Essex Senior League in 2005-06.
Nicky made 46 appearances in the same season, and was also our captain in the latter stages of the season. Both then moved on to Concord Rangers, and then to Braintree. Their father, Steve, was also involved with Hornchurch, and he managed our reserve team for a couple of seasons.
And we also had an ex-player who played in the fifth round of the F.A. Cup, as Simon Downer played for Sutton Utd against Arsenal.
Downer was with Hornchurch in 2004, and made his debut in the F.A. Cup match at Boston Utd, and set up an unwanted record when he was sent off on his debut appearance. In all he played six times for Urchins.
For anyone looking for a match on Thursday our reserve team is at home to Cheshunt, with a 7.45 pm kick off.