Hornchurch ‘have to find form’
McFarlane: We’ve had a dip at wrong time
Hornchurch boss Jimmy McFarlane is trying to remain positive, with his side now facing the lottery of the Ryman Premier Division play-offs.
Defeat for Urchins at lowly Harrow last weekend saw Billericay clinch the title and automatic promotion to Conference South, leaving McFarlane’s men with a home semi-final on Wednesday.
Who they will meet is still to be determined, with four teams chasing the last two places.
Urchins host relegated Leatherhead in their final game of the regular season tomorrow (Saturday) and McFarlane is hoping they can rediscover some momentum after suffering successive defeats.
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He said: “We’ve hit our worst patch of form at the worst possible time, but the old saying is ‘form is temporary, class is permanent’.
“We’ve got good players and we can come out of dips in form.
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“There’s not many times this season when we’ve been beaten and have deserved to be, but on Saturday we did.
“Harrow were fighting for their lives but we can’t dwell on it. Everyone’s disappointed but to finish as runners-up will still be a fantastic season and we’re only two games from promotion.”
Hornchurch could yet slip to third if they fail to beat Leatherhead and Lowestoft win at champions Billericay.
But they would still have a home tie in the semi-final if that were the case and McFarlane believes his men have what it takes to step up.
He added: “Billericay deserved to win the title, but we’ve got to make sure we join them.
“I don’t fear anyone but I would like to avoid Wealdstone at the moment! They’re the form team in the top six, but we’ve done well against all the top sides this season and if we have to play them, so be it.
“Confidence plays a massive part in football. The players haven’t hit the same heights as they have done all year, but one thing in a game can trigger it back.
“We need to get back to what we’ve been doing all year. You can’t stop having those negative thoughts, however positive you try to be.
“But I will stress to the players that we are only two games from promotion and we’ve won more games than any other team this season.”
Captain Elliot Styles would miss the play-off final should Urchins get there due to suspension, having been sent off for two bookable offences against Harrow.
McFarlane added: “It’s a massive blow for Elliot and the club. He has had a good season and deserves to play in a final.
“But he only knows one way to play and you can’t ask players to tread carefully.
“It’s harsh but he got two yellows, knowing full well it would cost him a place in the final.”
With a few players carrying knocks, McFarlane will shuffle his line-up for the visito of Leatherhead, but was hopeful of having his strongest XI available for Wednesday.
He added: “My hand is being forced with a few knocks, but we can still end up with a great season.
“No-one will ever know if it was pressure or just a dip in form. We’ve done nothing different in training.”
Romford end their Ryman Division One North campaign with a trip to relegated Great Wakering.
Victory would see Boro end the season with 60 points, following their 1-0 win over Sudbury last weekend, and manager Paul Martin said: “If we do that beat Great Wakering, it will make life harder for me next year!
“But it’s good that we’re hitting our targets and improving every year.
“It’s too early to talk about next year but we will have our presentation evening and golf day and then chat to players. Hopefully I will be able to keep who I want to keep.”