Hornchurch vs Cray Wanderers – Saturday 24th September, 3 pm – Match Preview and Directions
Cray Wanderers are back on their travels on Saturday after two successive home matches as Neil Smith’s side in 6th place visit league leaders Hornchurch. Kick off: 3pm
Cray will be looking to bounce back after a 0-1 defeat to Hastings United on Wednesday night which ended a six game unbeaten run in the league and the only time in the league Cray had failed to score in the first eight games of the season.
Despite the defeat performances had been good and a special mention to Tom Derry who filled in at centre half when Sinn’kaye Christie had to go off and did well showing his versatility. Although there were few chances for either side on Wednesday, Dan Bassett has scored in three of his last four league games and Billy Crook gets stronger and stronger as games go on. Ben Krauhaus made a lively contribution off the bench after his loan spell was extended and David Ijaha looks a fine and strong addition to the midfield after making his debut last Sunday and had a decent steady game on Wednesday.
Cray though will have to be at their very best on Saturday against an Urchins side which has won the last five in league and cups and top the Isthmian Premier on a superior goal difference on 15 points from Potters Bar Town.
Mark Stimson’s side had a 50-50 start to the season with two wins and two defeats but have hit top form awecially on Tuesday night winning 6-0 at Herne Bay. Liam Nash scored twice taking his season tally to six and Nathan Bartram-Cooper, Sam Higgins, Tom Wraight and Lewwis Spence all scoring. They have also advanced to the 3rd Qualifying Round of the FA Cup after away wins at Ipswich Wanderers and Maldon & Tiptree set up a home local derby vs Braintree Town next Saturday. Additions to the squad from last season are former Folkestone Invicta striker David Smith on a three month loan from Bromley, defender Kenny Clark from Dagenham & Redbridge and midfielder Jack Munns from Billericay Town.
Hornchurch began the league season with a 0-1 defeat at Bognor followed by home wins vs Enfield Town (3-2) and Hastings United (3-0) and then a 1-2 defeat at Canvey Island. A 2-1 home win vs Bishop’s Stortford on Bank Holiday Monday has been followed up by two big league wins, 5-0 at home to Corinthian Casuals and 6-0 at Herne Bay. Sam Higgins is the leading scorer so far with seven goals in league and cup.
Hornchurch had a very consistent season in 2021-22 following on from their FA Trophy success and were one of the leading contenders to challenge Worthing eventually finishing 4th and reaching the playoffs. A dramatic 3-2 win at Enfield Town in the Semi-Final set up a home final vs Cheshunt but were beaten 2-1 and remained in the Isthmian Premier for this season.
Cray do not have a too shabby record at Hornchuch having won there in 2009-10, 2011-12, 2013-14 and also last season winning 2-1 on 21st August, 2021 with goals from Jamie Yila and Ejiro Okosieme after Liam Nash gave Hornchurch the lead. Hornchurch were convincing winners at Hayes Lane on 10th April winning 5-0 with goals from Ola Ogunwamide, Nash, Ellis Brown, Charlie Ruff and Tobi Joseph.
Hornchurch FC were formed in 1923 as Upminster Wanderers and worked their way through local, Spartan, Delphinian and Athenian Leagues, moving to the Isthmian League in 1975. They earned a number of promotions and relegations and had back to back promotions from Division Three in 2001-02 and Division Two the following season. In 2003-04 they reached the 2nd Round of the FA Cup losing to Tranmere Rovers and finished 5th in the Premier and were re-located to the Conference South following league restructuring. Despite their new lofty status the club suffered financial problems and folded.
They re-emerged and re-booted as AFC Hornchurch in the Essex Senior Premier and won the league at the first attempt and then back in the Isthmian North in 2006-07 won the title to return to the Premier. In 2007-08, Hornchurch finished 4th and lost to AFC Wimbledon in the playoffs. From the 2009-10 season, they met Cray in league competition for the first time and in 2011-12 finished 2nd and beat Bury Town and Lowestoft Town to earn promotion back to the Conference South. They remained there one season before relegation and in 2013-14 reached the playoffs once again this time losing to Lowestoft in the final. Perhaps surprisingly, they were relegated the following season to the North and met Cray once again. For three seasons they were contenders and in 2015-16 and 2016-17 reached the playoffs each time losing to Thurrock. However, in 2017-18 they won the Isthmian North in some style to return to the Premier where last season they finished in 15th place in 2018-19. Hornchurch were 3rd in 2019-20, a point and place behind Cray when the season was discontinued due to Covid-19 and were 9th in 2020-21 when stopped. However The Urchins achieved one of the most remarkable stories of the season as with no league games being played from November, Hornchurch won nine cup ties from the 3rd Qualifying Round to the Final beating Bowers & Pitsea (3-1, A), Wingate & Finchley (4-1 , H), Tonbridge Angels (1-0, A). Dulwich Hamlet (2-1, A), Kings Lynn (1-1, H won on pens), Maidstone United (5-4, H), Darlington (2-1, A) and Notts County (3-3) advancing on penalties to face Hereford at Wembley on 22nd May. Coming from a goal down with fifteen minutes to go, goals from Charlie Ruff, Liam Nash and Ellis Brown won the trophy for the Essex side for the first time and Stimson’s fourth FA Trophy success as a manager before finishing 4th last season.
The scene is set for one of the big games of the day in the Isthmian Premier and one that will be a strong test for the Wands but an exciting challenge.
Directions to Hornchurch FC
ESSEX RM14 2LX
Admission costs: £12.00 adults, £7.00 concessions – £3 1U16s–U12’s + free with an adult, pay on gate or online – https://hornchurchfc.ktckts.com/brand/match-tickets
Hornchurch Stadium is actually located in Upminster, Essex – just north of the Dartford River Crossing and is easily accessed via car or public transport.
PLEASE NOTE FOR TUBE TRAVELLERS – No service on the District Line between Barking-Upminster. Replacement Bus service DL7 will go from Barking to Upminster all day so please give yourself extra time for the journey. Your best bet is by train. Services from London Liverpool Street/Stratford or via the Elizabeth Line require a change at Romford for trains to Upminster.
Your best bet is by train. Services from London Liverpool Street/Stratford or via the Elizabeth Line require a change at Romford for trains to Upminster or you can go by train from West Ham station. The Jubilee line is running so you can get there from London or North Greenwich.
If you want to catch a bus, the 248 or 370 to Romford Market goes to Upminster Bridge Station (slightly the nearer tube station to the ground) or Upminster Windmill which is nearer still to the ground.
Take the M25 to junction 29 on the A127 towards London. Come off at the next major turn-off (signposted to Upminster) and turn left into Hall Lane. Follow this road for about a mile and a half, passing Upminster station on your left, until you come to a major crossroads with traffic lights. Turn right at the lights into St Mary’s Lane. Continue down the hill and take the second turning on the left (Bridge Avenue). The stadium is found about 200 yards down Bridge Avenue on the right.
Car parking is available at the ground on a first come first served basis. When full, street parking is available along Bridge Avenue and opposite the ground in Brookdale Avenue.
Nearest BR station is Upminster which is on the Fenchurch Street to Southend/Shoeburyness line. Turn left out of the station and follow the directions above.
Nearest Pubs: If coming in to Upminster Bridge Tube station The Windmill on Upminster Road (Green King Brewery) will be ideal for those getting there early or for a quick one after the game. If you prefer Upminster station which probably has a bit more amenities then the Junction on Station Road (Green King Brewery) looks your best bet or nearer Upminster Park is the Crumpled Horn on Corbets Tey Road or for those with specialist tastes the Upminster Tap Room Micropub is in Sunnyside Gardens. Your nearest Fish & Chip shop is George’s Atlantic Fish Bar on Upminster Road not far from the Windmill pub.
Upminster lies in the London Borough of Havering and just about seems to straddle the East London/Essex border. A very agricultural area back in the day, the Upminster Windmill is one of the few remaining windmills in Greater London, has a preservation order on it and acts as a museum. Also for those with an interest in agriculture then the Tithe Barn Museum in Hall Lane close to Upminster Station is worth a visit. If you end up in Hornchurch which is a little bit more of a way away from the ground so give yourself plenty of time if you choose this route.