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Big night for Hornchurch

Ryman Premier Division Play-offs

Semi-final

Hornchurch v Bury (7.45pm)

Pipped to the title by Billericay, Urchins remain just two wins away from promotion to Conference South.


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Jimmy McFarlane’s men secured the runners-up spot, and home advantage in the play-offs, with a 2-1 win over Leatherhead on Saturday.

Carl Rook’s first goal for the club opened the scoring at Bridge Avenue and, after the visitors levelled on the stroke of half-time through Greg Andrews, Leon McKenzie’s 47th-minute effort sealed victory.

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Hornchurch finished with a division-high 26 wins during the regular league campaign and McFarlane is expected to restore leading strike duo Martin Tuohy (30 goals) and Lewis Smith (20) to his starting line-up for tonight’s clash.

Urchins are gunning for revenge against Bury, having lost both earlier meetings between the sides this term.

Daniel Cunningham claimed the only goal of the October 4 meeting at Bridge Avenue and a last-gasp injury-time strike from John Sands earned Bury a 2-1 win in Suffolk in January.

Sam Read’s header gave the hosts the lead, somewhat against the run of play, midway through the first half.

And Urchins were reduced to ten men six minutes after the restart when Reiss Noel was sent off for a second bookable offence.

The visitors got back on terms seven minutes from time when Jon Hunt netted from the penalty spot after Sam Nunn handled Smith’s drive.

But after Michael Spencer sent a late chance wide of the far post, Bury countered with a long ball into the Urchins box and Sands swept home the winner.

They will certainly arrive in Essex on a high, after Sands helped himself to a hat-trick in a 7-1 final-day thrashing of relegated Tooting.

Billy Clark also claimed a treble in south London, with Kieran Leabon completing the tally.

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