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Hornchurch happy to keep it clean

PUBLISHED: 10:30 21 December 2015

Sam Mott of Hornchurch (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)

Sam Mott of Hornchurch (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)

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Despair for Hornchurch captain Elliot Styles and keeper Ollie Morris-Sanders as Canvey celebrate a goal in September 2010 (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)Despair for Hornchurch captain Elliot Styles and keeper Ollie Morris-Sanders as Canvey celebrate a goal in September 2010 (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)

Hornchurch do not have a good record against teams at the wrong end of the league table, so it was with some trepidation that we approached the match against bottom-of-the-table Waltham Abbey at the weekend.

After losing at Heybridge the previous Saturday, we had returned to the Maldon area three days later to play Maldon & Tiptree, and once again we came away pointless.

In fact the entire journey was pointless, as the match was called off just 30 minutes prior to the kick-off, due to heavy rain, a decision with which our manager Jim McFarlane was in full agreement, as one small section of the pitch was not in a playable condition.

And at half time on Saturday, with approximately 80 per cent of the territorial play but no goals, it began to look like it was going to be another difficult afternoon.

Danny Gay (left) kept 33 clean sheets in one season for Hornchurch, while Stefan Payne (right) was sent off by Ollie Morris-Sanders at Canvey in April 2014 (Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)Danny Gay (left) kept 33 clean sheets in one season for Hornchurch, while Stefan Payne (right) was sent off by Ollie Morris-Sanders at Canvey in April 2014 (Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)

George Purcell put us ahead with his 28th goal of the season early in the second half, though, and captain Elliot Styles added another soon after to secure the three points.

But the real honours must belong to the defence, where Sam Mott kept his 12th clean sheet of the season.

Gary Harrold holds the record for the most clean sheets, with 66 in his 216 matches, achieved in a 10-year spell with Hornchurch starting in 1979, but the record for one season goes to Danny Gay, who in 2003 kept his goal intact in 33 out of 60 matches, a record which is likely to stand for a long time.

The referee for the Abbey match was Ollie Morris-Sanders, who, in 2010-11, played five matches in goal for Hornchurch, on loan from Braintree.

Elliot Styles of Hornchurch rises above Waltham Abbey's Aaron Gayle, a future team-mate, during a Ryman Premier Division meeting in 2010 (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)Elliot Styles of Hornchurch rises above Waltham Abbey's Aaron Gayle, a future team-mate, during a Ryman Premier Division meeting in 2010 (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)

He has since become a respected referee in the Isthmian League, but in those matches he played alongside Billy Coyne and Elliot Styles.

Ollie has refereed one previous Hornchurch match, at Canvey in April 2014, a match memorable for the sending-off of four players, two from each side, in the first half, though no blame can be attached to the referee.

It meant however that two key players, Frankie Curley and Stefan Payne, missed the vital play-off match at Lowestoft at the conclusion of that season.

The Waltham Abbey match also marked the return to the starting line-up of Leon McKenzie, after his absence due to a long-term injury.

The last time Leon started a match for Hornchurch was in February 2013, coincidentally against Waltham Abbey, and both he and captain Styles scored in that match, which was also notable as their announcer John Adams played the National Anthem as the teams were about to kick off.

When asked why, he replied ‘this is the closest we will ever get to having royalty on this ground’.

Elliot Styles seems to enjoy his matches against the Abbey, for he has now scored against them on three occasions, the first time being in April 2010, and the most recent being on Saturday.

One unusual record was set up at the Waltham Abbey match when one of our ballboys, Charlie Crouchman, clocked up one 100 appearances in that role, and the club made a presentation to mark the occasion.

The club shop achieved its best sales for many years thanks to the long-awaited arrival of the replica shirts and the new polo shirts, which sold out in record time. More are now on order, so if anyone wants one, just let us know the colour and size.

Our latest Quiz Night was well attended and we have now decided to make this a monthly event, while there are still a few tickets available for our New Year’s Eve celebration priced at £45 each and including a buffet and disco.

Our Youth Alliance side scored eight goals in their two midweek matches, yet only had one point to show for it, and in fact only led for six of the 180 minutes. Against Welling they trailed 4-1, before pulling the score back to 5-5 and then almost getting the winner when a Nathan Douglas free-kick hit the post close to the end of the match.

And on Friday, they went down 4-3 at the excellent 3G pitch at the West Ham United Beckton ground.

Hornchurch have also sent a thank you message to Bury Town, who held a collection for Tobi Joseph, who broke his leg in two places during the recent meeting between the two sides.

Although the Bury player was sent off immediately following the incident, Hornchurch have stated that they do not attach any blame to the player, whose challenge was not malicious and who they feel did not deserve to be sent off.

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