Saturday welcomes Hornchurch to Longmead. I’ll be up front, they are not one of my favourite clubs.
Firstly, their ground has a running track around it. The guaranteed atmosphere killer from non-league to Premier League.
Secondly, the coldest I’ve ever been at a game was watching Hornchurch play at Longmead. Ok, not really their fault.
Thirdly, they were guilty of the most shameless match fixing I’ve ever seen, when one of their players literally crawled around the penalty area to make sure he handballed, and the keeper then pointed to our penalty taker which way he would dive, pulling his hands away from the ball to make sure we scored. The three points were welcome, but it was as bent as you like. And if you think I’m making it up, Google Reiss Noel and Joel Woolley, and Mr Fixit, Lewis Smith.
The current cohort from Essex were promoted back in to the Isthmian Premier this season, and have found it hard work, hovering just above the relegation zone, although they did themselves and the rest of us a lot of good by beating the thuggish Wingate & Finchley on Tuesday night. The familiar face of George Purcell still plays for them, and will be subject to the usual catcalls about his ability and girth.
On the pitch at the moment Tonbridge are enduring a barren spell in front of goal, which is odd given the three decent quality strikers they have on their books. However, the last three games have all been against play off rivals and only one goal has been conceded, as the Angels’ first choice back five have once again shown their quality as a unit.
Hornchurch are on something of a “win one, lose one” run. The former are generally at home, and the latter usually away. They only have three wins away from home, but given Tonbridge’s weak home form and current inability to break down obdurate defences, they could reasonably be eyeing a draw.
The Tonbridge manager has pointed to bobbly pitches as a reason for his team favouring a less effective long ball approach, instead of the passing game, for the past few matches. The Longmead carpet should not offer that excuse this week, even though it’s a wet one. Hopefully they will revert to the style that ignited the first eight weeks of this year.
It’s always gritty rather than pretty against Hornchurch, but if the play offs are a realistic aim for Tonbridge they must sort out their home form and win this game, and the rest of their home games this season.
Walk out music…