Urchins fans up for FA Cup
PUBLISHED: 11:30 07 September 2017
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When Nathan Cooper headed powerfully into the net on 18 minutes at Thurrock in the FA Cup against Romford on Sunday, we sat back in eager anticipation of more goals to follow.
And we waited and waited, but that proved to be the only goal of the game, with neither team creating much in the way of chances.
Sam Mott in the Hornchurch goal kept his fourth clean sheet of the season, but he only had to make one save, a free-kick from Jamie Dicks that was straight at him.
That apart, it seemed that most of the goal attempts ended up with the ball sailing over the bar and into the car park.
We created plenty of chances at the other end, but our final touch was lacking, although Romford can thank Michael Gooch for a magnificent diving save to keep out a Brad Warner shot that looked to be certain to end up in the net late on.
For much of the match we had little difficulty in holding on to our single-goal lead, but then we had to endure a very uncomfortable final 10 minutes, plus an even more nerve-wracking five minutes of stoppage time, before we progressed into the second qualifying round of the competition.
We were hoping to get a home draw against a team from a different league in the next round, but the draw meant that we have to travel once again, and we had to wait a few days to find out if it would be Grays or Hertford, as the first match ended in a draw.
Grays took an early lead in the replay, with Perry Dunn scoring after four minutes, but Hertford came back to draw level on 12 minutes.
Jamie Slabber put Grays back in front, but a goal midway through the second half sent the replay to extra time.
Eight minutes into the first period of extra time, Hertford took the lead for the first time and Grays were not helped when they had a player sent off for a second yellow card.
After that there was no way back, so we now travel to Hertford in the next round on September 16.
On Saturday, we make the shortish trip around the M25 to Potters Bar Town, who, until 2013, played in the Isthmian League, usually occupying a mid-table position.
They then switched to the Southern League, and again tended to finish in the middle of the table, but they switched back to the Isthmian League in the summer and are currently unbeaten, with three wins - over Witham, Brentwood and Soham, and a draw at Hertford.
In the FA Cup they have beaten West Essex, who play at Barking in the Essex Senior League, and on Saturday they beat Bishop’s Stortford, again in the Cup.
We have only twice met Potters Bar in the Isthmian League, in 2006-07 when we won 2-0 at home, with goals from Gary Cross and Amos Foyewa, and 1-0 away, with Kris Lee the scorer.
We also played them in December 2008 in a League Cup match, winning 4-0, with two goals each from Dean Green and Ross Wall.
Manager Jim McFarlane played in all three of those matches and skipper Elliot Styles played in two of them and was a substitute in the other one. Wall only played in the league cup encounter.
Only a handful of players have appeared for both Potters Bar and ourselves.
Billy Crowther played twice for Hornchurch in 2006, Junior Dadson made 11 appearances for us in 2014 and Aaron Gayle three brief spells at Bridge Avenue, with a total of 24 appearances, mainly in 2011.
Duane Jackman played 28 times in 2009 and 2010, before receiving a bad injury in the opening seconds of a match at Concord Rangers. Danny Johnson made 51 appearances in 2015 and 2016, and he was also sidelined for over a year with injury.
Nick McKoy played three times in 2012, and the best known is probably Reece Noel, who played 83 times in 2011 and 2012. Both players then played for the Southern Stars in Australia.
Ellis Remy and Harry Wheeler both played for Hornchurch but only in the Capital League, while Jonathan Spencer played 14 times for us in 2009, and Jason Willis played seven times in 2008.
On Tuesday we are again on the road, this time to Maldon & Tiptree, where, last season, we lost 3-0 in what was our worst performance of the season by a considerable margin.
At that time Maldon occupied a mid-table position in the league, but they seemed to have been inspired by their three-goal win and rose to the top of the table, before dropping to second position and missing out on promotion when they lost 1-0 against Thurrock in the play-off final.
They have not made a good start to the season, which was not helped by a floodlight failure, which led to one match being abandoned, as after beating Ware on the opening day, they have since lost to Heybridge Swifts and Hertford Town, and made their FA Cup exit at the hands of Hayes & Yeading in a replay.
Both Potters Bar and Maldon & Tiptree are games which we want to win and we expect to take a good following to both.
On Sunday last, thanks largely to our travelling support, we gave Romford their best home gate in 12 years, and it is our away following that seems to inspire us when we are on the road.