Ryman North: Hornchurch boss Jimmy McFarlane worries old issues may return against Dereham Town
16:30 23 September 2016
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Urchins manager says performances against Sides near the bottom last season were not good enough
Jimmy McFarlane fears problems that plagued his Hornchurch side last season may return to haunt the squad when they entertain Dereham Town in Ryman North tomorrow (Saturday).
Urchins head into the game on a five-match unbeaten run in the league after a 1-1 draw with leaders Phoenix Sports and 2-0 win at second-placed Bury Town this week.
Both Phoenix and Bury remain in the top two, while Dereham sit 19th heading into this weekend’s game, which appears to signal a home win on paper.
However, the Bridge Avenue club’s hopes of promotion last year were regularly hit by dropping points against teams near the bottom despite good results in the matches with those at the top.
And McFarlane is keen to guard against that happening once again this weekend as Hornchurch plough on in their mission to return to the Ryman Premier.
“Last year, consistency was a bit of an issue for us in that we would raise our game against the top teams in the division, but slip up against those near the bottom,” he said.
“This is no disrespect to Dereham, who can be a good side on their day, but they are currently in that group of teams who last season would have caused us problems.
“We’re in a good run of form at the minute, though, and if we turn up in the right frame of mind, we can go on and win.”
Hornchurch are yet to lose at home in all competitions this season, winning three of their five games so far at Bridge Avenue.
In comparison, Dereham are yet to win on the road this season in any competition, with the Magpies
struggling away from home.
While that is a statistic which should further boost the hosts ahead of tomorrow’s game, McFarlane believes that it may in fact help the Norfolk club more than it will aid Hornchurch.
“We went to Bury on Tuesday
looking to give them their first loss of the season and we did exactly that. I’m sure Dereham’s manager will be giving a similar team-talk to his side about giving us our first home loss,” he added.
Hornchurch picked up four points from their two matches against the Ryman North’s top two over the past week, but McFarlane is keen to stress that is only half of the story.
An injury crisis has taken hold of the Urchins in the early part of the season, with the likes of all-time leading goalscorer George Purcell and skipper Elliot Styles missing out recently.
Without those key men, the Bridge Avenue club held leaders Phoenix Sports to a 1-1 draw last Saturday, before recording a highly-impressive 2-0 win at second-placed Bury Town on Tuesday.
Heading into this weekend’s round of matches, Phoenix still lead the way, ahead of Bury, highlighting just how good the results of the past week have been for Hornchurch.
And McFarlane admits the current injury problems at Hornchurch are among the worst he has seen during his time in charge at Bridge Avenue.
“We have both of our strikers out, as well as plenty of others, so even though it is four points no matter who we played, the fact those results came against the current top two is a huge achievement,” said McFarlane.
“During our season in what was then the Conference South, we had a similar number of injuries, but the players were coming back a lot quicker then than they are now, so in that respect this is the worst I’ve known it since I’ve been here.”
Without Purcell’s services, Urchins needed another attacker to step up against Bury at Ram Meadow on Tuesday to provide a threat.
Step forward winger Ayrton Coley, who netted a brace to secure what could be an important three points for McFarlane’s men.
Coley opened the scoring in the 34th minute, before adding a second two minutes into the second half, and the visitors were able to hold on for the victory, recording their first clean sheet of the month in the process.
McFarlane was pleased that Coley got himself on the scoresheet against the Blues, and believes he can produce more moments of magic as the season progresses.
“Ayrton is a top player who always gives 100 per cent and he gives us something that maybe we haven’t had down the left before,” added the Hornchurch boss.
“He has a bit of everything in his game. He’s got lots of energy, great strength and a low centre of gravity, so it is difficult to knock him off of the ball because his balance is really good.”