Hornchurch ready for start of Ryman North campaign after plenty of goals in the summer

PUBLISHED: 12:00 10 August 2016

David Knight netted three goals for Hornchurch during pre-season (pic: George Phillipou/TGSPHOTO)

David Knight netted three goals for Hornchurch during pre-season (pic: George Phillipou/TGSPHOTO)

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The pre-season friendlies are now over and we are looking forward to our first match in the league against Romford on Saturday.

Last season Hornchurch lost on both occasions to Boro, 2-0 at Ship Lane and by the only goal at the Bridge and we fully intend not to make the same mistake twice.

We are hoping for a large following to Thurrock, a borough where we seem to be travelling to on a regular basis, which is hardly a surprise as the borough is home to no fewer than six teams.

Four of whom - Romford, Aveley, Thurrock and Tilbury - are in our division of the league.

The other two are East Thurrock, now in the Conference, or the National League as it is now known, and Grays Athletic, who are in the Premier Division of the Ryman League.

We have already been to Aveley twice, once to play Grays, and then last Friday, back again, this time for our home match against a very poor Billericay side, who sent a team of squad players and trialists for the second season in succession. Perhaps they are trying to tell us something. Our own supporters were not fooled and many of them chose to give this one a miss.

And then it is back once again to Aveley, this time in the FA Cup, and this match has been brought forward a day and will now be played on a Friday.

Apart from the Billericay game, we also travelled to Ilford last Wednesday and were surprised by a very good and efficient Ilford side, who, on the evidence of that one fixture, could well be promotion contenders in the Essex Senior League.

Our manager Jimmy McFarlane used a number of trialists in the build-up, and there is likely to be some intense competition to be in the starting line up.

Up front, we scored fifteen goals pre-season, with Ricky Freeman leading the way with four, closely followed by George Purcell, Leon McKenzie and David Knight, all with three each. So we wait eagerly to find out who will start at Romford.

In all, Jimmy used a total of 31 players pre-season. JJ Da Cruz, Nic Brown and David Knight have featured in all eight of our pre-season games with Dave Collis and Nicky Symons close behind on seven appearances each.

Tobi Joseph is still some way short of being able to play again after his broken leg against Bury last December and Paul Goodacre is also likely to miss the opening matches with an injury carried over from last season.

After our near-miss last year, when we lost far too many points against teams in the lower half of the league, we are cautiously optimistic, with the opener against Romford - one of those games where you simply cannot predict the outcome.

Though I think it is fair to forecast that the majority of those present will be supporting the Urchins. So let us hope that we will not be disappointed.

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