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Hornchurch blog: Leon McKenzie shows his quality again

PUBLISHED: 10:30 01 March 2017

Leon McKenzie of Hornchurch scores the third goal for his team from the penalty spot and completes his hat-trick at Heybridge Swifts (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Leon McKenzie of Hornchurch scores the third goal for his team from the penalty spot and completes his hat-trick at Heybridge Swifts (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

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Leon McKenzie scored his fifth hat-trick of the season at a windswept Heybridge Swifts on Saturday. His three goals came in the space of 19 first-half minutes. We hoped for more goals, but Heybridge came more into the match, and adapted well to the swirling wind, although Sam Mott had very little to do. And Hornchurch could have increased their tally in the final minutes, when Ross Wall fired into the side netting, and Ozzie Adeniji saw his shot saved by the home keeper with what was almost the final kick of the match.

A comfortable win, and one that was essential to keep up the pressure on the leaders. Maldon & Tiptree lost at Bury Town, but Thurrock and Brightlingsea Regent both won. Brightlingsea won again on Tuesday to take them six points clear of Maldon at the top.

We are sitting in third place, nine points adrift of Brightlingsea, but now only three points behind Maldon, and the play-off places are beginning to take shape.

Thurrock, whose match on Tuesday was rained off, are three points behind us, and the final play-off place seems to be between Bowers & Pitsea, Cheshunt and Haringey Borough.

We now look forward to the visit of Cheshunt on Saturday. When we travelled to Theobalds Lane in November, McKenzie gave us a 27th minute lead, but it lasted less than sixty seconds, as Hornchurch were caught out from the restart, when the ball was played down the left wing, and the cross into the middle found Luke Milbourn, whose first time shot eluded the diving Sam Mott.

Adam Bolle headed Cheshunt into a first-half lead, and it looked bleak of the Urchins when we lost JJ Da Cruz to a second yellow card. But in the final minute of the match McKenzie struck again, when he noticed the home stopper was too far off his line and he sent in a dipping shot, which went over the keeper and under the bar.

Matches against Cheshunt go back to our Delphian League days in the 1950s, and we have played them 37 times in league matches, winning twelve, drawing twelve and losing thirteen.

Forty-three players have been connected with both Hornchurch and Cheshunt, though only Ayrton Coley is the only current player to have played for both clubs.

Cheshunt are on the fringe of the play-offs, but slipped up on Saturday when they lost 3-2 at home to Dereham Town. But they have Jason Hallett in their side, and he is one of the most consistent goal scorers in the division, with 25 to his credit so far this season.

It is not going to be an easy game, and we are hoping for a good turn out on the terraces. Our home support has increased noticeably since the turn of the year, and, with just one defeat in the last 24 league matches, we are confident that our support will continue to increase.

There are two other top-of-the-table matches on Saturday - Brightlingsea are at home to Thurrock, and Maldon play Aveley.

So come 5pm on Saturday we may well have a better idea of who is going where!

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