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Hornchurch FC blog: A strong start following a summer of change

PUBLISHED: 15:00 15 August 2019

Joe Christou of Hornchurch and Jay Porter of Margate during Hornchurch vs Margate, BetVictor League Premier Division Football at Hornchurch Stadium on 13th August 2019

Joe Christou of Hornchurch and Jay Porter of Margate during Hornchurch vs Margate, BetVictor League Premier Division Football at Hornchurch Stadium on 13th August 2019

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Lewwis Spence of Hornchurch and Noel Leighton of Margate during Hornchurch vs Margate, BetVictor League Premier Division Football at Hornchurch Stadium on 13th August 2019Lewwis Spence of Hornchurch and Noel Leighton of Margate during Hornchurch vs Margate, BetVictor League Premier Division Football at Hornchurch Stadium on 13th August 2019

A lot has happened during the close season as we lost almost all of Jim McFarlane's championship winning side, with Kenzer Lee, George Purcell, Callum Chafer and Alex Bentley all departing at the end of the season.

Sean Marks was another who was released, meaning that we lost our two leading scorers and some key defenders.

Kenzer and Callum both joined Bowers & Pitsea, where they will join two other ex-Urchins in David Knight and Brad Warner.

Alex Bentley moved up a division and joined Tonbridge Angels, making an instant impact and being named player of the match on his debut appearance.

George Purcell joined Canvey Island, and again quickly made his mark, scoring a first half hat-trick in their pre-season match against Cheshunt.

Alongside Purcell in the Canvey side is another of our old players, Toni Joseph,

Manager Mark Stimson has made several signings during the summer, although we will have to wait for a few weeks for two of our key players, as both Remi Sutton and Arthur Lee sustained hand injuries in pre-season games, which will keep them out for a while.

Our opening league matches went reasonably well, although at half time at Merstham we were not too optimistic, as we went in a goal down.

Our second half performance was much better, and everything started to click when Danny Uchechi came on as substitute.

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He immediately made an impact, linking up with George Saunders, and setting up our equalising goal, with Lewwis Spence applying the final touch.

Joe Christou clinched the points with a goal six minutes from time, after Saunders had opened up the home defence with a rapid run along the wing.

On Tuesday we entertained Margate, who are tipped to be challenging for a play-off place this season.

Last season we lost 2-1 to them in very controversial circumstances, when Sean Marks was sent off following what many considered to be some blatant play-acting on the part of one of the opposition players.

The red card was quickly rescinded on appeal but the damage had been done and Margate went home with the points.

Margate took the lead through a well-flighted free kick, but we drew level on the half hour. Danny Uchechi made the opening, picking out Chris Dickson, who lobbed his shot over the keeper and into the net.

With time rapidly running out, Hornchurch equalised. A long throw from Matt Johnson landed in the box and it was Lewwis Spence who got the final touch to restore parity.

We could have won in the final few seconds, when Charlie Stimson laid the ball off to Jordan Clark, but his shot was narrowly wide of the mark.

Whilst there are plenty of positives, we also picked up five bookings, and conceded far too many free kicks, with Margate scoring both their goals from set pieces twenty yards out.

With the impending return from injury of Nathan Cooper, Remi Sutton and Arthur Lee, all key defenders, we are optimistic that our defence will be one of the strongest in the league.

This week we travel to Worthing, as the fixtures have given us two away games on successive Saturdays, and we will again be without Cooper, Sutton and Arthur Lee.

Mark Stimson was quick to react, and signed Mitchell Dickenson, on dual registration from Hemel Hempstead, and Garrett Kelly, who impressed in our pre-season matches.

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