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Hornchurch off to face Hythe Town, Grays Athletic and Leatherhead in pre-season with more fixtures to be announced

PUBLISHED: 09:00 24 May 2016

Hornchurch fans celebrated St George's Day in Bury St Edmunds before their Ryman North match (pic: Jordan Newman)

Hornchurch fans celebrated St George's Day in Bury St Edmunds before their Ryman North match (pic: Jordan Newman)

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May and June is usually the time for speculation - not who is going to stay, and who will be signing, but who will we play in the pre-season matches.

So far, three pre-season matches have been confirmed.

It’s a trip to the seaside on 23-July, when we travel to Kent to play Hythe Town, a team we have never previously met in any competition. Hythe finished fourth in the Ryman South, but lost to Worthing in the play-off semi-final.

On Wednesday 27-July, we make a shorter journey, to Grays Athletic, who presumably will still be playing at Aveley until their new ground is ready, which at the moment seems to be a long way away from completion, as it is still at the planning stage.

And on the 30-July we travel around the M25 to Leatherhead, who finished in a mid-table position in the Ryman Premier.

Usually it gives us all a chance to have a look at some of the trialists, but this time it will also give us the opportunity to check out some of the new rules, which take effect next season.

Goalkeepers will have to be careful that they do not move prior to a penalty kick because if the referee orders a re-take on account of the keeper moving too soon, it is now an automatic yellow card for the goalie - do it twice and you are off.

In penalty shoot-outs, teams no longer need to give the referee the names or numbers of the penalty takers or the order of the kickers.

The rule relating to the kick-off and to restarts has been amended, so that the ball can now be kicked in any direction at a kick-off, forwards, sideways or backwards. This could lead to a few comments until everyone gets used to it.

A player who is injured and who needs treatment as a result of a yellow or red card offence no longer has to leave the field at the resumption of play.

There is likely to be some confusion about the new guidelines relating to offside, as the first bullet point states that the player must be in the opponents half in order to be offside.

That’s what we always thought, but another of the bullet points in the guidelines states “the offside free kick is always taken where the offside offence occurs, even in own half.”

This will certainly need some clarification before the season starts - if a player can only be offside in his opponent’s half of the pitch, how can the kick be taken in his own half?

And Law 12, relating to fouls and misconduct, may cause quite a few problems both for referees, players and spectators.

“Where a player denies the opposing team a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by a deliberate handball offence the player is sent off wherever the offence occurs.” - No real problems so far.

But - “Where a player commits an offence against an opponent within their own penalty area which denies an opponent an obvious goal-scoring opportunity and the referee awards a penalty kick, the offending player is cautioned unless:

- The offence is holding, pulling or pushing or

- The offending player does not attempt to play the ball or there is no possibility for the player making the challenge to play the ball or

- The offence is one which is punishable by a red card wherever it occurs on the field of play (e.g. serious foul play, violent conduct etc.)

In all the above circumstances the player is sent off.”

This seems to suggest that a mistimed tackle, as opposed to a professional foul, or a handball, which is not intentionally deliberate, can now be punished by yellow card rather than a red card.

Hopefully the pre-season games will give everyone a chance to become acquainted with the new interpretations of the laws.

But first it’s a nice trip to the seaside, providing it does not rain at Hythe.

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