Urchins season not over yet as club prepare for captain Elliot Styles’ testimonial

PUBLISHED: 14:00 02 May 2017

Hornchurch captain Elliot Styles (far right) at Waltham Abbey (pic: George Phillipou/TGS Photo)

Hornchurch captain Elliot Styles (far right) at Waltham Abbey (pic: George Phillipou/TGS Photo)

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Just before 8 pm last Wednesday, a long throw from Thurrock’s Joe Christou reached Remi Sutton, on the edge of the area, and his shot, seemingly mishit, bobbled its way past a packed Hornchurch defence and into the net for the only goal of the match.

And that signalled the end of our bid to reach the final of the play-offs. For both teams, chances were few and far between, and Fleet deserved to win, with a much more composed performance than a somewhat off-form Urchins.

The attendance was officially announced as 481, most were supporting Hornchurch, and the ground quickly emptied out at final whistle, which led to a large build up of traffic trying to exit the field that served as an overflow car park.

It’s congratulations to Thurrock for their single goal victory over Maldon & Tiptree in the final, which means that they will play in the Premier Division of the Isthmian League next season.

With all the promotion and relegation places now sorted, unless there are some last minute reprieves, it means that the North division will receive Harrow Borough, Canvey Island, Sudbury and Grays Athletic, all down from the Premier division. Coming up will be Mildenhall Town from the Eastern Counties League, and Barking from the Essex Senior League.

We will lose Brightlingsea Regent and Thurrock, both promoted, and Ware, Wroxham and Great Wakering, all relegated.

Wakering will return to the Essex Senior League, Wroxham to the Eastern Counties League. Ware are likely to find themselves in the Spartan South Midlands League.

It is very harsh on Ware, who only dropped into the relegation slot on the last day of the season, thanks partly to Soham Town Rangers.

Rangers took advantage of a Maldon team fielding several fringe players, with some of their key players rested, secure in the knowledge that they were guaranteed two home matches in the play-offs.

Soham were losing 3-2 with five minutes left to play, but they then scored twice to take them out of the drop zone, with 53 points.

It was a similar story at Heybridge Swifts - two goals down in 25 minutes, they looked doomed.

Two goals in the first five minutes of the second half gave them some hope, and they scored again eleven minutes from time, to finish on 51 points.

With Waltham Abbey losing at Witham, it meant that Abbey, Swifts and Ware all ended the season on 51 points.

Abbey had a goal difference of minus 16, Swifts minus 17 and Ware minus 18, in what was possibly the closest ever relegation battle in Isthmian history.

So it is seven teams coming in, and six going out. Which leaves the three Kent based clubs wondering which of them may be switched into the Isthmian South division.

As all three play in the borough of Dartford, this is not going to be an easy choice to make.

The other candidate for a switch is Harrow Borough, who could find themselves in the Southern League. We shall just have to wait and see what happens.

It is not quite the end of the season as far as Hornchurch are concerned, as we have one more match still to come. And it is an important one for Elliot Styles.

Elliot has played in 499 competitive games for the Urchins - it would have been his 500th had we reached the play-off final - and on Friday 12th May, our current team will play an Ex-Hornchurch team, kick off at 7.30 pm and admission is £5.

The ex-Urchins who have so far asked to play are Darren Behcet, Dave Collis, Frankie Curley, Billy Coyne, Simon Glover, Mark Janney, Kris Lee, Asa Pamplin, John Purdie, Jamie Southon, Andy Tomlinson and Richard Wray.

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