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Hornchurch still flying high

PUBLISHED: 17:00 14 March 2018

Hornchurch fans in full song (pic George Phillipou/TGS Photo)

Hornchurch fans in full song (pic George Phillipou/TGS Photo)

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

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Theo Fairweather-Johnson celebrates his late winner for Hornchurch against Canvey (pic George Phillipou/TGS Photo)Theo Fairweather-Johnson celebrates his late winner for Hornchurch against Canvey (pic George Phillipou/TGS Photo)

Despite the rain during the week, the Hornchurch pitch was in good condition for the visit of Canvey Island on Saturday.

It was a match that both teams needed to win – Hornchurch in order to maintain our lead at the top of the table, and Canvey, who themselves still have a good chance to take the title, or at least one of the automatic promotion places.

It was one of those games where we had to defend for long periods, against a rampant Canvey side, but at the same time we had chances to have put the result beyond doubt in the first half.

After just six minutes Brad Warner was denied by a fine save from the visiting goalkeeper, and in the final minute of the first half, we thought we had scored when Chris Assombalonga chipped the ball over the keeper and over the line – or so we thought.

Hornchurch team-mates Nathan Livings and Elliot Styles battle for the ball against Canvey (pic George Phillipou/TGS Photo)Hornchurch team-mates Nathan Livings and Elliot Styles battle for the ball against Canvey (pic George Phillipou/TGS Photo)

The referee looked at the linesman, who shrugged his shoulders, and match officials can only give what they see, and if they couldn’t be certain that the ball was over the line, then they cannot give the goal, and play continued. Video evidence afterwards was inconclusive.

Midway through the first half Canvey managed to miss as open goal, when the ball was scooped over the bar from just a few yards out, and they had the better of the second half.

The match was heading for a goalless draw until, with five minutes to go, Warner moved down the left flank, and crossed for Theo Fairweather-Johnson to head home for the only goal of the match.

Canvey could easily claim that they were worth at least a point and they maintained their challenge for promotion during the week when they won 5-0 against Brentwood, with our ex-player Martin Tuohy getting one of the goals.

Hornchurch celebrate their late winner against Canvey (pic George Phillipou/TGS Photo)Hornchurch celebrate their late winner against Canvey (pic George Phillipou/TGS Photo)

Elsewhere, Bowers & Pitsea kept up the pressure with a 4-0 win over bottom-of-the-table Romford and Potters Bar beat Heybridge Swifts by 3-2, the winning goal coming in the final minute of the match, after Swifts had played the entire second half a player short, thanks to a first half red card.

So we now hold an 11-point lead in the table, ahead of Bowers & Pitsea, who have a match in hand, with Canvey and Potters Bar both 19 points in arrears, but also with games in hand.

We did not have a midweek game, and we now look forward to the visit of Mildenhall on Saturday.

This will be Mildenhall’s first-ever visit to Bridge Avenue, and we have only played them once, when we won 6-0 at their ground earlier in the season, with Leon McKenzie leading the way with three goals, the others coming from Nathan Cooper, George Purcell and Sean Roberts.

Jimmy McFarlane, manager of Hornchurch, attended the game against Canvey just weeks after suffering a stroke (pic George Phillipou/TGS Photo)Jimmy McFarlane, manager of Hornchurch, attended the game against Canvey just weeks after suffering a stroke (pic George Phillipou/TGS Photo)

We were without Sam Mott for this match, and in his place came Simon Bloch, far and away the tallest ever player to appear for Hornchurch, at six foot ten and a half inches.

Simon played for us on two further occasions, keeping a clean sheet every time, before Mott returned after recovering from injury.

Mildenhall currently occupy a mid-table position in what is their first season in the Isthmian League, having been promoted from the Eastern Counties League last season, and are one of six teams who have progressed from what is predominantly a league with its geographical location in East Anglia.

At the wrong end of the table, Cheshunt have now moved six points clear of Romford, who now are firmly entrenched at the foot of the league, five points behind Norwich United.

Just who will come up from the Essex Senior League has still to be decided.

At present Great Wakering lead the way with 74 points, two ahead of FC Romania, with Redbridge six points behind the leaders, but with two matches in hand.

The other feeder league is the Easter Counties League, where Felixstowe & Walton Utd lead the way with 87 points, eight ahead of Coggeshall Town, who have three matches in hand.


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