The AFC Hornchurch blog: Two wins, but a few scares to contend with against Waltham Abbey and Haringey Borough

PUBLISHED: 14:00 17 January 2018

Hornchurch celebrate Theo Fairweather-Johnson's goal against Waltham Abbey in the Bostik North (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Hornchurch celebrate Theo Fairweather-Johnson's goal against Waltham Abbey in the Bostik North (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

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Six more points over the weekend, but not without more than a few scares in the match against Waltham Abbey. We took the lead early on, only for Abbey to draw level thanks to some lacklustre defending. We regained the lead, and once again let Abbey get back level, when ex-Urchin Billy Holland took full advantage of poor marking to head home. Almost on half time Matt Fanimo put us back in front, but full credit to Abbey for not only drawing level for the third time, but also taking the lead with a spectacular long range shot.

With seven minutes to go we were all set for another home defeat. And then on came George Purcell, and less than thirty seconds later he was brought down on the edge of the area. We fully expected George to take the free kick, but instead it was left to Nathan Livings, who neatly slotted the ball under the jumping wall of defenders and into the net. At this stage we would be happy to take a single point but in the second minute of stoppage time, it was Purcell once again, when he cut in from the right to strike the winning goal from a narrow angle.

Neutrals in the crowd might have been delighted with the match, but manager Jim McFarlane would certainly have been asking why our usually rock steady defence had let in so many soft goals.

A feature of the match was that we had nine goals and nine different scorers, prompting the question ‘was this a record?’

No, it was not, but it equalled the record, as in September 1954 there were nine different scorers in the Delphian League match against Dagenham. The result was 6-4 to the Daggers, and the scorers - Brian Thornton, Sid Phillips, Ian McLean and Jackie Lunn for Hornchurch, and for Dagenham, Mick Newman scored twice and he was backed up by Charlie Newman, Bill Bridge, Ron Tofts, and Reg Lambourne, who went on to become initially a player, and then manager, of Hornchurch.

Going back even further, we had six different scorers in our Spartan League encounter with Stevenage. Upminster, as they were then known, won 9-0, and our scorers were Ken Perry, J. Shaw, Ernie Coote, F. Parker, Robert Hall and A. McDougall.

Perhaps we were fortunate to take all the points against Abbey, but it set us up for our trip to Haringey Borough’s artificial surface on Monday, where, despite missing three of our regular first eleven, we took an early lead through Theo Fairweather-Johnson, who was soon afterwards picked up an injury and was substituted. After weathering some intense Haringey pressure, it was his replacement Leon McKenzie who gave us some breathing space with a goal in the final minutes. Haringey quickly grabbed a goal back, but our defence held firm and played out the last few minutes to maintain our unbeaten run.

Tobi Joseph came on for Brad Warner for the final fifteen minutes at Haringey, and this marked Tobi’s one hundredth appearance for Hornchurch. Tobi made his debut at Leatherhead in August 2014, but his appearances were curtailed in December 2015, when, with six minutes left to play, he suffered a double break in his leg, and it was twelve months before he was able to play again. So it was a very welcome landmark for Tobi, and one that was long overdue.

We travel to Norfolk on Saturday for one of our longest away trips of the season, to Dereham Town, a round trip of over two hundred miles. We first played Dereham in the 2015-16 season, winning 3-0 at Dereham with goals from David Knight and two from Tobi Joseph, and we won by the same score in the return match, with Tobi again scoring twice, the other coming from Dave Collis.

Last season, Dereham won at Bridge Avenue with the only goal of the game six minutes from time, and the return match ended goalless.

When Dereham came to Bridge Avenue earlier this season they won 1-0 and in so doing they moved to the top of the league table. They are currently fourth in the table, very much in contention for the play-offs. They drew 0-0 at Hertford in their last league match, and their leading scorer is Daniel Beaumont with eleven goals.

On Tuesday we are at home to Barking. We drew 1-1 at Mayesbrook Park in the last match of 2017, our goal coming from George Purcell. We have played Barking, on almost fifty occasions, the first time being in 1956 when we met them in the Amateur Cup. It took three matches to decide who would progress into the next round, as the first game ended level at 1-1, and the replay also finished 1-1 after extra time (none of these ridiculous penalty shoot outs back then). The third match had only one goal, and it was Barking who scored it.

But we have to go back to 2002 for the last time we met them, at a time when they were known as Barking & East Ham. We drew 1-1 at Mayesbrook Park, our goal coming from Chris Wolff, and we won the return match 5-1, with goals from Kevin Marsden, Andy Martin, Chris Moore, and two from Vinnie John.

Well over one hundred players have at one time represented both clubs, and they have two of our ex-players in their squad, Abs Seymour, who played for us last season, making twenty appearances in total, and Martin Tuohy, who joined them last week. Martin played 218 times for Hornchurch, scoring 84 goals.

Our crowds, in line for most clubs, are markedly lower for midweek matches, and we are hoping to reverse this trend as Barking are always popular visitors, and will hopefully their own supporters will make the short trip.

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