Simon Bloch still influencing Hornchurch ahead of busy festive spell in Bostik North
PUBLISHED: 17:00 21 December 2017
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Simon Bloch only played three times for Hornchurch, when he took over in goal whilst our regular goalkeeper, Sam Mott, was recovering from an injury.
But the ‘Bloch influence’ was apparent as Urchins adopted markedly different tactics against Cheshunt on Saturday, building up their attacks from defence, instead of launching the ball high in the air and up the field.
The net result was a pleasing 3-1 win, with Leon McKenzie heading us ahead after eleven minutes, when he ran on to an Alex Bentley cross from the right.
George Purcell added two more in the second half, and although Cheshunt pulled a goal back a few minutes from the end, there was never any danger of the points going anywhere other than to Hornchurch.
We are now five points ahead at the top of the table, and have games in hand of most of the chasing pack, apart from Heybridge Swifts, who are a long way behind in their fixtures, thanks to their excellent runs in both the F.A. Cup and the F.A. Trophy.
The Swifts are 25 points behind us but with ten matches in hand, although they are still awaiting the decision over their match against Haringey Borough, which was abandoned during stoppage time.
The results expected to stand, but no firm decision has yet been made. Swifts have also lost their leading scorer, Sam Bantick, who joined Tonbridge Angels last week.
With no midweek match, we now look forward to our final pre-Christmas game when we entertain Bury Town on Saturday.
Bury occupy eleventh position in the league table, with 31 points from 23 matches, and on Saturday last they drew 1-1 with Grays Athletic.
They have however one of the best goal scorers in the division, in Cemal Ramadan, who has scored 17 goals already in league matches.
When we travelled to Bury St Edmunds in August, we came away with a 4-1 win, with two of our goals coming from Tobi Joseph and the others from Brad Warner and Theo Fairweather-Johnson.
The report on the Bury Town web site neatly summed up our performance on that day - ‘Strong at the back, quick in midfield and deadly up front’. Hopefully we can repeat this on Saturday.
Although we first played Bury in 1969, in an East Anglian Cup match, we had to wait until 2006 for our first encounter in a league match, when we lost 2-1, with Kris Lee our scorer.
We have now met Bury on 15 occasions in league matches, winning seven and drawing four, although the most memorable match was in the play-off semi-final in 2012.
We won 3-1, with our goals coming from Lewis Smith, Martin Tuohy and Carl Rook, all in the second half.
Only a handful of players have represented both clubs. Lance Key played one match for Hornchurch, in 2008, when he was signed as emergency goalkeeper to replace the suspended Dale Brightly.
Joe Benjamin played eight times for Hornchurch in 2008. Nnamdi Nwachuku, who played six matches for us in 2015, also played five matches for Bury, on loan from Colchester at the time.
The best known, as far as Hornchurch in concerned, is Billy Roast, who played 28 times for us in 2014, initially on loan from Colchester, prior to which he had seven games for Bury, also as a loanee from Colchester.
Saul Otobo played five times for Bury in 2015, and he also played for the Hornchurch Capital League side in 2010, and Taylor Nathaniel also played for our Capital League side, and joined Bury shortly afterwards in2011.
Our first match after Christmas is on Wednesday 27th December, when we travel to Ship Lane to play Romford, with a 7.45 pm kick off.
Romford are at the wrong end of the table, but after a 17-match winless run they beat Cheshunt 4-2 in their last match, and, as we all know, whenever we play Romford, the outcome can be very unpredictable.