Hornchurch blog: Two is a magic number for Urchins

PUBLISHED: 12:00 07 December 2017

Jimmy McFarlane took charge of a record 460th match as Hornchurch boss last week (pic: George Phillipou/TGS Photo)

Jimmy McFarlane took charge of a record 460th match as Hornchurch boss last week (pic: George Phillipou/TGS Photo)

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Two games, both at home, two single goal wins, two goalkeepers, one scorer, and six points - and top of the table.

Manager Jim McFarlane, celebrating a record 460 matches in charge, made two enforced changes from the side that won convincingly at Mildenhall four days earlier bringing in Matthias Fanimo for the suspended George Purcell, and Elliot Styles for Olumide Oluwatimilehin, who was also serving a one-match suspension.

With Sam Mott still out through injury, Simon Bloch made his home debut, keeping a clean sheet for the second match in succession.

When Nathan Cooper scored the only goal of the game, finishing off a Brad Warner corner, there was a collective sigh of relief. Hornchurch had dominated right from the start, but an outstanding display by the visiting goalkeeper had kept Sudbury in with a chance of taking a point.

With Mott still feeling the effects of his injury sustained at Tilbury, Bloch was again in goal for the visit of Maldon & Tiptree, who many have tipped as likely promotion candidates. Maldon were moving up the table after an uncharacteristic poor start to the season, and they had the league’s leading goalscorer in their ranks. Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe was anxious to improve on his already impressive 29 goals this season.

Without Kenzer Lee, who was injured in the previous match, Jim McFarlane moved quickly to snap up Nathan Livings from Harlow Town, and he went straight into the starting line up. Livings was with Enfield Town between 2013 and 2017, and made over one hundred appearances before linking up with Harlow this season. He was a regular in their team, making thirteen appearances before his surprise move to Bridge Avenue, and he immediately slotted in to an attacking midfield role.

Ogedi-Uzokwe gave early indications of just why he has scored so many goals this season, but our defence rose to the occasion, and it was Maldon who were on the defensive. Then came the moment when the picture changed - Simon Bloch, our six foot ten inches stand-in for Sam Mott, received a head injury, and it was some considerable time before he was able to resume. But for the remaining fifteen minutes of the half he appeared often to be unaware of what was going on around him, reacting on autopilot whenever the ball came his way.

Would he come out after the interval? The answer was yes, but then came a massive surprise - Simon lined up at the wrong end of the pitch. Perhaps Maldon needed two goalkeepers?

He then went to the ‘correct’ goal, but it was apparent that he was not going to be able to continue. Hornchurch had no goalkeeping cover on the bench, and we firmly expected Elliot Styles to take over in goal. But then came the biggest surprise of the night - Dave Collis took over, and his performance inspired the rest of the team. Not so much what he did in goal, as our defence contained the visiting forwards, but his presence was an inspiration not only to the team, but also to our supporters, who made their own presence known every time he touched the ball.

And far from it being a long and difficult second half, it was Maldon who were repeatedly forced to defend desperately in the face of wave after wave of home attacks, with the support from the terracing rising in volume.

Perhaps they defended a little too desperately, and when Matthias Fanimo was sent crashing to the ground forty yards out, the referee instantly showed the red card to the offending player, who, it has to be said, was perhaps unfortunate to be caught out by Fanimo’s sheer speed off the mark.

The wining goal was now very much on the cards, and it came once again from Nathan Cooper, with his third goal in three matches, and again from a Warner corner.

Maldon tried hard to salvage a point but did not trouble Collis in goal, and we are now seven points clear at the top of the table.

We now visit Canvey on Saturday, and are back at home on Tuesday, when Barking are the visitors.

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