Hornchurch prepare to host rivals Romford

PUBLISHED: 12:20 01 February 2017 | UPDATED: 12:20 01 February 2017

Akwasi Marfo of Romford and Elliot Styles of Hornchurch fight for possession during last season's clash at Bridge Avenue (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Akwasi Marfo of Romford and Elliot Styles of Hornchurch fight for possession during last season's clash at Bridge Avenue (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

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On Saturday we are at home to Romford, one of six teams that play in the neighbouring borough of Thurrock.

Our record against Romford in the Ryman League is not good: we lost both games last season and came away with a goalless draw in the opening match of the current season. We have yet to score a goal against them in the Ryman League.

The only other time we have played Romford in a league match was in our sole Essex Senior League season in 2005-06.

We won both of those matches and we had the Cowley brothers, Danny and Nicky, in our team.

They moved on to Concord and Danny then became manager, first of Concord, then Braintree, and now is in charge at Lincoln City, with Nicky as his assistant manager.

Lincoln are currently top of the table in the National League and have been making headline news with their progress in the FA Cup, after beating Championship clubs Ipswich and Brighton to reach the fifth round.

They were handed a trip to Premier League Burnley later this month, which will be the first time that two ex-Urchins have featured in the fifth round of the FA Cup.

Looking back, Hornchurch have played many teams from Romford in the past, but the name of Upminster (as Hornchurch was known as at the time) first became prominent in the football world when they were drawn against Romford in the FA Cup in 1948.

The match was switched to Romford’s home ground, Brooklands, and the programme produced by Romford FC explained in detail why the switch took place.

A statement read: “It is regretted that such an enterprising club as our visitors are obliged to take such action owing to lack of suitable accommodation in a continual expanding district.

“It is our hope that in the near future they will be fortunate enough to secure a ground similar or even better than our own.”

Upminster lost 2-1, Brian Thornton scored our goal, and the attendance at Brooklands was 7,088 and receipts were reported as £310-4-0.

We will certainly not get as many through the turnstiles on Saturday, but the receipts should be easily bettered.

Hornchurch made the short trip over the QE11 Bridge to Dartford on Saturday and arrived at VCD Athletic having successfully negotiated the seemingly never-ending succession of roundabouts on the other side of the river - we counted 14 in two miles - to find the weather, in marked contrast to last week, as bright, sunny and mild.

Manager Jim McFarlane fielded two new signings in Teddy Nesbitt, who started the season with East Thurrock and then moved to Billericay in November, at left back and immediately settled down well with his new club.

Usman Adeniji was the second newcomer, having played against us for Witham a couple of weeks ago.

Adeniji also scored against us when Witham came to Bridge Avenue earlier in the season and he had a great chance to open the scoring, three minutes before the interval, but placed his shot wide of the keeper and post.

After a goalless first half, in which neither team could make much of an impression on the opposition defence, Hornchurch scored twice in the first five minutes of the second half.

Ross Wall was quick to follow up when the home keeper could not hold a Leon McKenzie shot and McKenzie then scored his 27th goal of the season when Nesbitt sent a good centre in from the left.

Sam Mott had little to do at the other end of the pitch, but was called upon to make two excellent saves in an otherwise one-sided second half.

VCD had a player sent off 15 minutes from time and we expected Hornchurch to take advantage of their extra numbers on the field. But then the weather took over.

An amber-red sunset suddenly disappeared and instead we had torrential rain, quickly followed by even heavier hailstorm, with some snow thrown in for good measure.

Our push for the play-offs stumbled slightly when Tilbury went away with a point on Tuesday after a match played in increasingly heavy conditions. The rain had started during the morning, and continued throughout the match, but Hornchurch had plenty of opportunities to wrap the match up in the first half, and felt they should have had a penalty when Wall was pulled back inside the area.

But we had to settle for just one first-half goal and it was two of the newcomers who created it on 16 minutes when, after steady pressure, Nesbitt sent over a dangerous free kick, Lee Butcher punched away, but Adeniji followed up to fire home his first goal for his new club.

The second half was a much different story and Tilbury had more of the game, in worsening conditions, before they got their reward seven minutes from time with a header at the far post.

However, one point is better than none at all, and we are slowly closing the gap on the teams above us.

We remain in fourth place in the table, but are confident we can continue our unbeaten run and still catch the leaders, Maldon & Tiptree.

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