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Hornchurch boss McFarlane says his side will be looking to cause an upset

PUBLISHED: 10:00 09 August 2018

Colin McBride (L), Jamie Southon and Hornchurch manager Jim McFarlane look on during AFC Hornchurch vs Arsenal Under-23, Friendly Match Football at Hornchurch Stadium on 31st July 2018

Colin McBride (L), Jamie Southon and Hornchurch manager Jim McFarlane look on during AFC Hornchurch vs Arsenal Under-23, Friendly Match Football at Hornchurch Stadium on 31st July 2018

©TGS Photo tgsphoto.co.uk +44 1376 553468

Newly-promoted Hornchurch are not just in the Bostik Premier Division to make up the numbers insists manager Jimmy McFarlane.

The Urchins were crowned champions of the Bostik North last campaign and secured promotion after narrowly missing out in the play-offs in the two seasons prior.

McFarlane revealed no targets have been set for his side but he is quietly confident they can cause some upsets and be tough to beat this term.

“We haven’t set any targets yet, but we certainly are not going in there to just make the numbers up,” he said.

“First season back in it or not, me, the people involved, my staff, the players we’re brought, none of them are here to make numbers up so we’ll be having a go and who knows.

“I think we’ll be very fit and very hard to beat this year.”

The boss admits he is looking forward to the new challenge and is delighted with the squad he has assembled this summer.

“I look forward to every season to be fair, whatever league we’re in,” he added.

“I’ve never been one to sing from the house tops, but I’m quietly confident we’ll do well.

“We’ve got players we had last year and the ones we’ve brought in are proper players, and I’m excited about this new group.

“I always knew the boys who won the league last year were good enough and when you bring new players in sometimes it unsettles or unbalances the squad, but the players we’ve brought in are all good characters and proper players.”

Hornchurch have moved to bring in the likes of Callum Chafer, Lewwis Spence, Jordan Clark, Tobi Coker, Sean Marks, Dexter Peter and George Saunders this summer.

But they’ve also seen a handful of players depart, including their long-serving goalkeeper Sam Mott, legendary captain Elliot Styles, midfielders Olumide Oluwathilemin, Sean Roberts, and Tobi Joseph, as well as striker Christian Assombalonga.

McFarlane admits Mott will be a loss to the club but he had his replacement in Chafer – who was at the club in 2015/16 – signed up just 15 minutes after finding out his former keeper was departing for Ashford United.

“I said to him three years ago that he would be back here as my number one at some point and he reminded of that when he signed!” he said.

“I had him at 16/17 and we knew then he was going to be a proper goalkeeper. The minute Sam Mott said he was going, I was obviously gutted to lose Sam, he was a great servant and a great goalkeeper, but the first person I called was Callum and this is the truth within 15 minutes of Sam leaving, Callum was our goalkeeper.

“That’s the confidence I’ve got in him and the first few days after Sam going public I had six proper goalkeepers ring me, but never once did I think I should go for them.

“I knew Sam was going to be tough to replace as he was a top class goalie but I think Callum has got equal ability.

“They’re different characters, they have different strengths and different weaknesses, but let’s hope Callum goes on the same as long as Sam.”

Former defender McFarlane also revealed he is yet to name his captain for the upcoming campaign and most likely will not until the opening day of the season when they host Leatherhead on Saturday.

Defender Nathan Cooper has donned the armband throughout their friendlies and Urchins will go into the season on the back of a mixed pre-season campaign.

They started brightly with a 1-0 win against Essex Senior League outfit Hullbridge Sports, before a 2-0 victory against National League South outfit Concord Rangers thanks to a Theo Fairweather-Johnson brace.

McFarlane’s men suffered a 2-0 defeat to Bostik South Central side Cheshunt in a three-team tournament where they also beat Premier rivals Enfield Town 2-1.

But they then missed out on some silverware after losing 2-1 to Canvey Island in the Isthmian Shield final and fell to a 3-0 defeat against Freddie Ljunberg’s Arsenal under-23s in a plum fixture at Bridge Avenue.

They also lost 3-1 at Bury Town in their last friendly on Saturday, but now it’s time for the real stuff to begin.

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