Hornchurch back in the goals and ready for crunch Ryman North clash with Maldon & Tiptree and Bury Town
PUBLISHED: 13:30 23 November 2016
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It passed by completely unnoticed - when Leon McKenzie played against East Thurrock a couple of weeks ago, it was his one hundredth appearance for Hornchurch.
It could have been a lot more had Leon not missed over a year with what at first seemed to be a minor injury at Dulwich Hamlet in September 2014. On that day he played just six minutes before limping off. It was fourteen months before he was able to play again.
And it was McKenzie who ended our goal drought when he ran on to an inch-perfect pass from Abs Seymour in the 27th minute and neatly glided the ball home at Cheshunt ground on Saturday.
It was our first league goal in 317 minutes, and who had scored the previous league goal? - McKenzie needless to say, against Great Wakering.
Cheshunt then went straight down the field and equalised, and, five minutes later, they took the lead.
To increase our woes, we then lost JJ Da Cruz to a second yellow card, and had to play the final fifteen minutes a player short.
Cue Leon McKenzie again, this time in the final minute of the match. The ball came out of defence, Ross Wall flicked it on, and McKenzie, forty yards out and in a seemingly impossible position, took four - or was it five paces - and volleyed the ball home for a dramatic equaliser, to the very obvious delight of the Urchins’ supporters behind the goal.
We had another boost at Thamesmead on Tuesday, when George Purcell started his first game for over two months.
He did not find the net, thanks to a couple of excellent saves by the home goalkeeper, but he certainly made his presence felt, when he laid the ball off for McKenzie to net our third goal of the match.
Hornchurch are now unbeaten in their last seven league matches, and have kept a clean sheet in six of those games.
By any standards, these are impressive figures, but at last we are seeing signs that our forwards are getting back onto the goal trail.
We are not too far behind the league leaders, Maldon & Tiptree, who have now opened up a three point gap between themselves and Brightlingsea Regent, although the latter have two matches in hand.
We are at home to Maldon this coming Saturday in a match which could well have a massive influence on our position in the league at the end of the season. We lost three nil at their ground earlier in the season, albeit with an injury-hit squad, and we do not want to let Maldon get any further ahead in the table.
We then play Bury Town on the Tuesday. Bury are five points ahead of the Urchins, but they have played two matches more.
Two goals from Ayrton Coley brought back the points from Bury St Edmunds earlier in the season.
So the two upcoming home games could be very much make or break our season, and we are looking for as much support on the terraces as we can muster.
At most of the away games this season, we have played at grounds, where, had it not been for our travelling support, there would be no crowd at all.
The players and the management are fully appreciative of our away support, and they would appreciate it even more if we could increase our home attendances by twenty percent or more.
Manager Jimmy McFarlane now has a different problem to resolve - for the last couple of months his main difficulty was who to play up front, as we never seemed to have anyone fit to play, with all the injuries, together with the departure of two of our recognised forwards, Ricky Freeman and David Knight.
Now he has four to choose from - Purcell, McKenzie, Wall and Gary Cohen, not to mention Ayrton Coley, and the rapid Abs Thompson on the wing.
We could well be in for an exciting push for promotion.