Bostik North: Hornchurch look to close in on title hunt during tricky Easter weekend period against Potters Bar Town and Brentwood Town

PUBLISHED: 17:00 28 March 2018

Chris Assombalonga heads clear for Hornchurch against Canvey (pic George Phillipou/TGS Photo)

Chris Assombalonga heads clear for Hornchurch against Canvey (pic George Phillipou/TGS Photo)

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Colin McBride of Hornchurch (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)Colin McBride of Hornchurch (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

It turned out to be a difficult afternoon for two clubs last Saturday, as both Ware and Sudbury were caught up in a massive traffic jam on the M25.

Ware’s match at Grays was delayed thirty minutes, eventually getting underway at 3.30, but Sudbury did not kick off at Romford until 4.20.

Hopefully nether Ware nor Sudbury will get fined for late arrival, as there is little that can be done if you are on the motorway when it grinds to a halt, something that happens all too often on the M25.

We now know that Romford will ground-share at East Thurrock next season, though whether they are in the Bostik/Isthmian or the Essex Senior League is uncertain.

They are six points adrift of Norwich United, so relegation is a distinct possibility, although, with the possible loss of Thurrock, could the bottom club get a reprieve?

Ground sharing, or perhaps it should be called ground switching, is beginning to reach epidemic proportions.

This week the Ware vs Potters Bar Town match was switched very late in the day to Potters Bar, as the Ware pitch was unfit.

And just an hour later, Billericay Town announced that their Bostik Premier match against Harrow Borough would now take place at Aveley FC’s 3G surface, as the Billericay, due to the recent rainfall and the forecast of further heavy rain.

In the case of Potters Bar, this had a direct effect on Hornchurch, as the Scholars, whose nickname derives from their original name of Mount Grace Old Scholars, beat Ware by the only goal of the game, scored in the fourth minute.

Potters Bar are now on 76 points, the same as Bowers & Pitsea, seven points adrift of Hornchurch, who have one match in hand of both clubs. And on Saturday, it is Hornchurch v Potters Bar.

Potters Bar lost to Aveley in January, and since then they have won six of their eight league matches, drawing the other two.

They have beaten other play-off chasing teams, Canvey Island, Heybridge Swifts, Maldon & Tiptree and Dereham Town, so are the in-form team at the moment.

Their leading scorers, Eoin Casey and Michael Murray, have scored 45 goals between them, so our defence will need to be on top form.

We have only played Potters Bar, on four previous occasions. In November 2006 we won 2-0 at Bridge Avenue, our goals coming from Amos Foyewa and Garry Cross.

In the return match, in March, Kris Lee scored the only goal of the game to give us maximum points. We played them in December 2008 in the League Cup, winning 4-0, thanks to two goals each from Dean Green and Ross Wall.

We then have to wait another nine years, when we travelled there in September of this season, and quickly found that we had to fork out over £3 to park in the road, with just a handful of free spaces in the approach road.

On a day when the rain cascaded down in torrents, Potters Bar lost their unbeaten record to a dominant Hornchurch side.

And they also lost their self-control in a match that ended in a card-fest as the home side tried a little too desperately to salvage a point, and had three yellow cards and one red card in the space of five stoppage time minutes.

But the match is memorable for other reasons - it marked the debuts of Sean Roberts and Matthias Fanimo. Sean quickly became a regular member of our squad, as did Matt, who also made a massive impression in Slovenia, and he eventually joined NK Drava Ptuj, who play in the Slovenia 2nd Division.

2006-07 was the season when we finished champions of the Isthmian League North, with 103 points, and we are on target once again to finish at the top of this season’s table. We hold a seven points lead at the moment, and we have accumulated 83 points.

The most that any other team can get is 97 points - both Bowers and Potters Bar can reach that total, though only if they get maximum points from their remaining games.

So we have both promotion and the championship firmly in our control, and with your support we can take another three points on Saturday.

Despite Potters Bar being only a few miles away, only a handful of players have represented both clubs.

These include Junior Luke, who made 92 appearances, Reiss Noel, 82 appearances, and Danny Johnson, on 51.

The others are Billy Crowther (2), Junior Dadson (11), Aaron Gayle (24), Duane Jackman (28), Nick McKoy (3), Jonathan Spencer (14), and Jason Willis (7). Two other players, Ellis Remy and Harry Wheeler, only played for Hornchurch in the Capital League.

Then on Monday we make the short trip to Brentwood, whose 20th position in the table is slightly misleading, as they have had so many matches called off this season.

In fact they had to switch a match to Aveley a week ago as their pitch was still waterlogged. Their pitch now seems to be back in service, and they drew 3-3 with Tilbury on Tuesday.

We played Brentwood in January and lost by four goals to three, with Leon McKenzie scoring one goal and George Purcell getting two, both from the penalty spot.

We expect to take a very large support to maintain our lead at the top. We have had excellent away support throughout the season, and we should expect to outnumber the home support on Monday.

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