Hornchurch striker Liam Nash backing his side to keep Wembley dream alive

Liam Nash of Hornchurch scores the fifth and winning goal for his team and celebrates during Hornchu

Liam Nash of Hornchurch scores the fifth and winning goal for his team and celebrates during Hornchurch vs Maidstone United, Buildbase FA Trophy Football at Hornchurch Stadium on 6th February 2021 - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

Hornchurch ace Liam Nash is backing his side to keep their Wembley dream alive this weekend as they travel to Darlington in the last eight of the FA Trophy.

The Urchins are the lowest ranked side left in the competition and know they must win on Saturday if they are to play again this season, with campaigns at Steps 3-6 officially curtailed with immediate effect on Wednesday night.

Needing victories to keep their show on the road is not a new scenario for Mark Stimson’s side, who have claimed four higher-division scalps in the FA Trophy since their last league match on November 3.

Nash scored the 97th-minute winner as the Pitching In Isthmian League Premier Division outfit overcame Maidstone United 5-4 in a dramatic fifth-round tie last time out and is hoping for similar jubilation in the north-east this weekend.

“Every single game has been a cup final as if we don’t win, we’re out of football,” he said. “That’s the best motivation we could have.

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“The last round had a bit of everything, with goals flying in, and fortunately I was in the right place at the right time to finish it off at the end.

“Their ‘keeper rushed out with open arms and said ‘lob me’ – so I did. The rest is history!

Liam Nash of Hornchurch and Jaydn Mundle-Smith of Maidstone during the FA Trophy tie.

Liam Nash of Hornchurch and Jaydn Mundle-Smith of Maidstone during the FA Trophy tie. - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

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“There is such a buzz around the club from this run and now we’ve got this far, we have a fantastic chance to get to Wembley.

“The belief is definitely there now because of how far we’ve come. It’s within touching distance, we just have to turn up and get the job done.”

Nash started this season in the Gibraltar National League but the expulsion of his club, Boca Gibraltar, for financial reasons led to a prompt return to the UK for the former Gillingham frontman.

The 25-year-old has since been under the tutelage of Stimson, an FA Trophy specialist who has won the competition four times across his playing and managerial career and is now looking for his most remarkable triumph yet.

“All of us respect him – he’s been there and done it with big clubs and his Trophy record is unbeatable,” said Nash, whose club are one of 228 across the Trident Leagues being supported by Pitching In – a multi-million-pound grassroots sport investment programme launched by Ladbrokes, with the support of its owner Entain.

“He breeds that confidence into us and tells us how good we are. The changing room as a whole is great and I’ve fitted in straight away.

“We all get on and you want to run that extra mile for your teammate as you know he’d do the same for you.”

The close-knit squad will have plenty of time for team bonding on the five-hour coach journey to Darlington – though it will not be a day trip.

A fundraising effort, supported by West Ham United, to allow the club to travel the day before and stay overnight hit its £2,500 target within two days and while the loyal Urchins supporters will not be able to make the journey, Nash hopes they will get their reward in the weeks and months to come.

“This run has been lovely for the fans and hopefully we can carry it on,” he said.

“Who knows, by the time we get to Wembley, we might be able to have the Hornchurch fans in and let them celebrate that way!”

Ladbrokes, with the support of its owner Entain, has launched a multi-million pound investment programme, Pitching In, designed to support and promote grassroots sports.

The programme includes a flagship partnership with The Isthmian, Northern Premier and Southern Leagues - collectively known as The Trident League, as well as a partnership with the UK sports charity SportsAid. For more details see: https://entaingroup.com/sustainability/pitching-in/

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