The day Elliot Styles starred in goal for Hornchurch to earn FA Cup success

PUBLISHED: 13:00 26 May 2017

Elliot Styles and John Purdie lead out the teams at the Hornchurch captain's testimonal match (pic George Phillipou/TGS Photo)

Elliot Styles and John Purdie lead out the teams at the Hornchurch captain's testimonal match (pic George Phillipou/TGS Photo)

©TGS Photo +44 1376 553468

The latest news from the Hornchurch Supporters’ Association

Frank Curley shakes hands with Elliot Styles ahead of his testimonial match at Hornchurch (pic George Phillipou/TGS Photo)Frank Curley shakes hands with Elliot Styles ahead of his testimonial match at Hornchurch (pic George Phillipou/TGS Photo)

The FA Cup final takes place this weekend and Elliot Styles’ greatest match for Hornchurch occured in that competition, though with 500 to choose from it is not easy to select just one.

In September 2008, Hornchurch were comfortably defending a single goal lead in the FA Cup at Bromley.

This all changed with eight minutes left to play, when goalkeeper Dale Brightly was shown a straight red card for handling the ball outside his penalty area.

Elliot took over in goal, and Donny Barnard came on to replace Kris Lee, sprinting into position in defence.

Everyone came back for the free kick, which cannoned off the wall, and Frank Curley played it out for a corner. The corner was an inswinger, and Curley played it out for another corner.

Over came the ball, but the referee ordered a re-take, as there were two balls on the pitch – perhaps because Bromley could not score with the one they had – and eventually Barnard cleared the ball away to safety.

10-men Urchins then found they really had eleven all the time, thanks to the incredible volume of noise coming from the Urchins following, who cheered every tackle, every clearance, to the echo.

And the loudest cheers came whenever stand-in goalkeeper Elliot touched the ball. Bromley threw everyone forward, and, in the final minute of stoppage time, came the save of the match, of any match in fact.

The ball over from the left, and the Bromley centre forward, just short of the goal line, headed downwards, and Elliot hurled himself to his left to touch the ball around the post.

And so it was all over, and the music over the tannoy was ‘I like it’ by Gerry and the Pacemakers. Most appropriate, we all certainly liked it a lot. And Elliot in particular. We now hope that Elliot will lead us to promotion next season.

Our chairman, Alex Sharp, speaking prior to the supporters’ AGM last week, made it clear that our aim is to win the league, not just to reach the play offs in the coming season.

The 2017-18 season will be very different to previous campaigns, as, if the proposals are accepted, there will be two teams automatically promoted to the Isthmian Premier, with the next four going into the play offs.

And even then, there may still be a chance of getting promoted, as there will still be room for four more teams in the revised and enlarged pyramid set up.

But play-offs are too much of a lottery, and the best way to avoid them is to win the league, which is what we intend to do.

Manager Jim McFarlane has already lined up a few pre-season friendlies, starting at Hullbridge Sports on the 15th July.

Our first home match is on Thursday 20th July, when Kingstonian are the visitors, followed by a trip to Dartford, where we play VCD Athletic the following Saturday.

And on Tuesday the 25th July, we entertain Leyton Orient, who dropped out of the Football League this season.

This could well be the chance to watch O’s for the first time as a non-league side and then comes a popular trip to the seaside, when we travel to Whitstable Town on Saturday 29th July.

Alex Sharp also gave us some other, very much unexpected, news. It was always thought that it would not be possible to have a 3G pitch, as the ground is shared with the athletics club, who use the pitch for various field events, which until now have made it impossible to consider the installation of an artificial surface.

These problems have now hopefully been resolved. The javelin will be rubber tipped, which means that the point will not penetrate the artificial surface. The discus will also have rubber surroundings, as will the shot put.

It will not happen immediately but Alex was hopeful that the 3G surface could be in place for the following season, subject to the council agreeing to the project.

And in the meantime, promotion is the immediate aim.

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