Hornchurch blog: Title chase over, but the race for second in the Ryman North is well and truly on
PUBLISHED: 14:30 22 March 2017
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It’s getting very tight in the play-off positions, but not so tight right at the top. After Saturday’s results, Brightlingsea Regent found themselves nine points clear at the head of the Ryman North with just six matches left to play. Can they be caught? It’s beginning to look very unlikely.
On a day when Hornchurch needed as many goals as they could muster, they chose to put on one of their worst performances of the season against Wroxham, a team sitting at the bottom of the table. It might have been a lot different had a Martin Tuohy shot in the second minute gone into the net. Instead the visiting keeper made an excellent save, tipping the ball over the bar, and our anticipated goal-fest never happened.
Although we took the lead, through Tuohy in the 29th minute, Wroxham came back strongly in the second half and scored a deserved equaliser fifteen minutes from time. We twice hit the post, but we could not get the all-important goal, and had to be satisfied with just one point when three were definitely there for the taking.
The point gained by Wroxham has lifted them one place up the table, but they are still fifteen points adrift of safety, and they look to be making a return to the Eastern Counties League.
Great Wakering Rovers also look doomed to relegation, and they will go back to the Essex Senior League. Soham Town Rangers are the other team in the drop zone, but are level on points with Ware, and Brentwood Town, Heybridge Swifts and Waltham Abbey are also looking anxiously at the results of the teams beneath them in the table.
Brightlingsea won to strengthen their championship hopes, and Haringey Borough also won, but Thurrock, Maldon & Tiptree and Cheshunt all lost. Thurrock could only manage a draw against Heybridge on Tuesday, and the net result is that Hornchurch now sit in third position in the table, two points adrift of Maldon. So whilst the championship is looking out of reach, second place, and two home matches in the play-offs, is a distinct possibility.
Our Youth Alliance team, with four matches left to play, are currently unbeaten in league matches, winning twelve of their fourteen games, and are now eight points clear at the top of the table. In second place are Dagenham & Redbridge, who have a match in hand, and in what is very much of a crunch encounter, we now play the Daggers on Friday.
Last week the Youth Alliance side seemed to be heading for their first defeat of the season, losing 2-1 to Aldershot Town with fifteen minutes left. They then drew level, and in a nerve-wracking finish, they eventually netted the winning goal two minutes from time.
With no midweek match, we now entertain Norwich United on Saturday, a team also seeking a place in the play-offs. We travelled to Norwich in October, and the match was settled by a goal from David Knight on the hour. Our own team was considerably different to that which will take the field on Saturday. In addition to Knight, Will King, JJ Da Cruz, Dave Collis, Jacob Berkowicz, Ousmane Kone and Ayrton Coley have now left, whilst Nathan Cooper is likely to be absent due to the injury incurred when we played Cheshunt two weeks ago.
Prior to this season, we have never played Norwich, so this will be their first ever visit to Bridge Avenue. We are hoping for a good turn out for this match, which is yet another must-win game if we want to escape from the Ryman North.