Hornchurch FC strengthened their hopes of an early title charge in the Isthmian Premier Division under new manager Steve Morison by beating Folkestone Invicta in a 4-2 Thriller at Bridge Avenue, the Home of the Urchins, on Tuesday night.
The teams entered the pitch as the Hornchurch fans were singing loud and proud before kick off.
The slow start to the game was quelled in the 18th minute as Folkestone stunned Hornchurch by going 1-0 up, with a defensive mistake leaving former Urchin striker, David Smith, scored to give the visitors the lead.
The Hornchurch fans got behind their team as they hunted for the equaliser and they found it 5 minutes before halftime to make it 1-1. Sean Scannell crossed the ball into the box and it was headed into the net by defender Nathan Cooper. It remained level at the break.
15 minutes into the second half, the man in form for the Urchins , Liam Nash had a few chances to put Hornchurch into a deserved lead but failed to take them.
Folkestone then stuck to punish the Chins once more; Luke Holness volleyed the ball home to send the small bunch of Folkestone fans into delirium and put them 2-1 up and to put the Urchins unbeaten record in the league under threat.
The league leaders found a way to change the game and they certainly did in the 77th minute as Hornchurch had a corner and Ryan Scott headed the ball onto the bar, ultimately falling to former Folkestone striker Ade Yusuff, who tapped the ball home past the goalkeeper to level the scoring.
Did the league leaders stop there? They certainly didn’t. Two minutes later, new signing Femi Akinwande sent the Urchins supporters into madness as he scored the goal to put Hornchurch 3-2 up and into the lead for the first time.
With four minutes remaining , Akinwande's second goal of the evening wrapped the game up for Hornchurch who went into a 4-2 lead and keeping their unbeaten record safe.
The game finished 4-2 to the Chins, which left the home fans delighted as they stayed top of the Isthmian league but now 8 points clear from Chatham Town in second.
Hornchurch FC Line up : Henry, Clark, Cooper, Scott ,Green, Muldoon, Peake, Wraight, Yusuff, Nash, Scannell
Bench : Wright, Monville ( Replaced Scannell 71' ) , Akinwande ( Replaced Peake 55' ) ,Byron, Spence ( Replaced Wraight 89' )
Folkestone Invicta Line up : Colman, Barton, Penn, Gayle, Davies, Moses, Dury, Cole, Smith, Holness, Regis
Bench : Ababio ( Replaced Regis 85' ) , Olutade ( Replaced Smith 34' ) ,Everitt , Watkins, Goodman ( Replaced Gayle 89' )
Referee : Craig Barnett
Attendance - 437
Steve Morison in charge of the Urchins this season.
Recent History of Hornchurch FC
Hornchurch FC had a great 2020/21 under former manager Mark Stimson. The league season was null and void but a 3-1 FA Trophy Final win against Hereford at Wembley in 2021 during COVID-19 was a highlight in front of 3,000 Urchin fans. It is probably one of their greatest wins and cup runs in history after beating six National League teams in the cup. Then they won the Pitching In Super Cup against FA Vase winners Warrington Rylands 3-2 at home.
Hornchurch FC and their supporters have been short of luck since then under Mark Stimson. They started the following season poorly and were outside the relegation zone before their 16 game unbeaten spell, earning them a place in the play-offs. The Urchins faced Enfield Town away from home in the semi-final, coming from behind to win 3-2 in stoppage time to face Cheshunt in the final, ultimately losing 2-1.
Hornchurch and Mark Stimson stuck together after this defeat and went very close to winning the league in the 2022/23 season after another good year of results, but dropping points in crucial moments cost the Urchins, leaving them to face the play-offs once more. This time the semi-final was at home against Cray Wanderers which was a classic. Hornchurch went 2-0 up but the visitors brought the game back to 2-2 late on to take it to extra-time and the Urchins went 3-2 up in the first-half of extra-time, going on to concede in the second-half of extra-time to make it 3-3 to take it to penalties, which Hornchurch won 5-3.
Once more a play-off final at home , but this time against local rivals Aveley , but it ended as the same a year on , an Urchins defeat due to a Ryan Scott winner for the visitors.
Hornchurch This Season
So, the Urchins had a summer break of reflection and made a decision to sack Mark Stimson after being in charge for six years, overseeing an FA Trophy triumph during his tenure.
The Urchins appointed former Millwall player and Cardiff manager, Steve Morison, as Stimonson's replacement in the club's century year. He was thrilled and honoured that he was offered the job.
Since he’s joined the Urchins , he has brought in ten new summer signings, including the player that scored the winner against them in the play-off final against Aveley , Ryan Scott.
Morrison released a few players but kept the majority of the team that has been with them including Liam Nash, Hornchurch’s star man with 13 goals in 12 Games in the league.
Liam Nash scoring goals for fun for Hornchurch in the Isthmian Premier Division.
The Chins are flying in the league. Unbeaten so far, winning ten out of the twelve games, having scored 36 goals already and only conceding 13; the future's looking bright for Hornchurch.
In addition, Steve Morison won the September Manager of the Month award in the league after winning three games out of three in the league.
Hornchurch recently dropped out in the third qualifying round in both the FA Cup to Aveley after a replay and to Leiston in the FA trophy , with the club's main focus now being promotion.
In recent games, before the Folkestone Invicta home game, Hornchurch have had a trio of 4-1 wins against Hastings United, Bognor Regis and Cray Wanderers.
The supporters are high in their numbers home and away and are very vocal and they will start to believe that this is the year of something very special.
Next up for Hornchurch is on Saturday as they visit second-from-bottom Concord Rangers in an Essex derby.
Can the Urchins, under Steve Morison, keep up their unbeaten record in the league or can they be stopped in their tracks at Thames Road?