Hornchurch ready for fierce derby test
PUBLISHED: 17:26 23 July 2015 | UPDATED: 17:26 23 July 2015
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Urchins welcome Billericay to Bridge Avenue
Hornchurch take on Billericay in their first home friendly of pre-season tonight (Thursday) in what has already been dubbed the ‘A127 Classico’.
The two sides, who are separated by 12 miles, played out a 2-2 draw in May whilst still both in the Ryman Premier League in front of a 271 strong crowd.
But following Hornchurch’s relegation at the end of last season, it may be the last time that the two teams will face each other for a while.
Manager Jimmy McFarlane says that fans can expect the inevitable excitement that comes when two great rivals face off against each other.
“Although it’s a pre-season friendly it’s still going to be a feisty affair and played with the right spirit of course,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to it because it’s a step up from what we’ve had so far.”
Hornchurch will have to reshuffle their starting XI to factor in several injuries to key players.
Full-back Alex Bentley, frontman Dave Knight and Elliot Styles, who suffered a knock against Ramsgate at the weekend, will all be missing from tonight’s match.
But the home side will welcome the return of Danny Johnson from a short lay-off.
Asked about any difficult runs that his side will face in Ryman North this season, following the release of the 2015/16 fixtures, McFarlane replied: “Yes, one starts on August 8 and won’t end until mid-April.
“Look at Margate (Ryman’s Premier Division) from last season. With the money and players they had, they should’ve won the league comfortably, but they finished third.”
The Urchins begin their campaign against Cray Wanderers, who were the league’s in-form side in the final matches of last season, before travelling to face local rivals Romford (August 12) and Dereham Town (August 15).
They will then face three sides from the last season’s bottom half of the table when they take on Thameshead Town (August 22) and reprieved Redbridge (August 25) before ending the month at home to Great Wakering Rovers (August 31).
McFarlane added: “I was told on Saturday by Ramsgate’s manager that no team has ever been relegated from the Ryman Premier and come straight back up again the next season. Hopefully we’ll be the first.”