Jimmy McFarlane insists Hornchurch remain hopeful of taking further step this season and earning promotion from Ryman North

PUBLISHED: 09:00 12 August 2016

Hornchurch manager Jimmy McFarlane (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)

Hornchurch manager Jimmy McFarlane (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)

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Bridge Avenue boss reflects on play-off loss to Harlow Town and how they need to use that hurt as motivation during the 2016/17 campaign

George Purcell of Hornchurch tries a long range shot against Harlow Town (pic: David Simpson/TGSPHOTO)George Purcell of Hornchurch tries a long range shot against Harlow Town (pic: David Simpson/TGSPHOTO)

Jimmy McFarlane insists he will be driven on this season by Hornchurch’s Ryman North play-off final heartache to Harlow Town in May and is eager to make sure the Bridge Avenue club get promotion this year.

Urchins finished fifth in the division during the 2015/16 campaign, but stunned Thurrock in the semi-finals of the play-offs to book a big clash with Harlow.

It was the Hawks who sealed promotion to the Ryman Premier, though, as they won 3-1 on home soil against Hornchurch.

But McFarlane has added to his squad this summer by signing George Woodward from local rivals Romford in addition to bringing in James Morrish, Kenzer Lee and JJ Da Cruz.

He said: “I think it is very important that the feeling you get after losing a big game doesn’t just go completely.

“People say it is better to get beaten in a semi-final rather than a final because it is easier.

“I’ll be honest I was gutted after the final last season, but it will be driving me on to make sure we go one better this time.

“We don’t expect it to be easy because Thurrock have made some good signings, Thamesmead Town have got an experienced manager in Tommy Warrilow.

“I’ve heard Cheshunt have brought a few good players in, Haringey Borough have the 3G pitch now and Brightlingsea Regent are normally strong, but it is a marathon – not a sprint. Our aim, without doubt, is to win the title this year.”

Hornchurch shouldn’t be short of goals in Ryman North with four strikers fit and firing throughout pre-season.

Leon McKenzie, after suffering cruciate knee ligament damage, is past those problems and looking back to his best.

George Purcell and David Knight have both hit the back of the net three times already this summer, while Ricky Freeman tops them all with four goals.

McFarlane is delighted to have such a strong array of forwards and admits he hasn’t bothered looking elsewhere during pre-season as he knows it is tough to beat what he’s already got.

He added: “We rushed Leon back last year and in the end it was to our detriment. People forget he had a serious injury.

“It is the same one that is still keeping Danny Johnson out, but Leon is back now and is looking really fit. In pre-season he’s been excellent, holding it up well and looking sharp.

“It’s down to the four of them to fight it out, they’ve all had a bit of time in the summer to impress. I’ve not really had an opportunity to look at any other strikers.

“To bring somebody in that’s better than what I’ve got is very hard. You are not going to get a player on trial that is an improvement on what we’ve already got at the club.”

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