Essex League Premier Division: Roy Smith knows Hornchurch need to play their best to beat Brentwood

Hornchurch players celebrate a wicket (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Hornchurch players celebrate a wicket (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo) - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

Harrow Lodge Park club almost certainly can’t win the title, but still want to finish as high as possible

After a frustrating draw at home to Ilford, Hornchurch captain Roy Smith is eager for his team to bounce back and beat Brentwood this weekend, but knows they need to play to their best.

Wanstead’s victory at home to Brentwood last Saturday sees them odds-on to win the Essex League Premier Division title yet again, but who ends up in second, third, fourth and even fifth is still up for grabs.

Hornchurch are hoping to win at the Old County Ground this weekend and give themselves a fighting chance of being runners-up behind the Herons this year.

But Smith warned: “We know Brentwood are a good side with some top players.

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“They do have a nice ground though, and a lovely wicket, so our guys will be looking forward to going there.

“We know if we perform to our best then we have enough to win, but at the same time if we are under-par, we will struggle to get the result we all want.”

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After visiting Brentwood, Hornchurch host local rivals Upminster on the final day of the season (September 9).

Smith believes one victory and a ‘winning’ draw will see them assured of a top-four finish, but he would dearly love two wins to end 2017.

He added: “There is definitely plenty to play for and we could still come second, which would be a great achievement.

“If we can get a couple of wins we have a really good chance of finishing as runners-up, so that would be fantastic.

“Even a victory and a draw where we were on top would see us come third or fourth and that would still be a good season, so there is a lot to play for still.”

Ilford managed to frustrate home side Hornchurch last weekend, as they dug in for a draw at Harrow Lodge Park.

Brian Barnard smashed 128 off 99 balls, as the hosts scored 273 all out with Zeeshan Khan hitting 39.

Early wickets for Mehad Khan (1-25), Billy Gordon (2-23) and Taqi Abbas (2-36) had Ilford reeling on 85-5, but Saurav Prabhaker (36*) and Hamza Muhammed (33*) batted for 126 and 125 balls respectively to guide the away side to 155-5 from 68 overs.

It was a frustrating result for Hornchurch, but Smith enjoyed watching Barnard take the away attack to all parts of the ground.

The South African has registered two half centuries and one ton in his last three innings for the local club.

Smith said: “Brian is a class player and he has settled in now and looks used to our conditions.

“His knock on Saturday was unreal and he was reverse-sweeping Ashar Zaidi for one bounce fours and nearly hitting it all the way, so he is in great form.”

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