It’s Velocity Trophy semi final night as Bracknell Town make the trip around the M25 to face Bostik League South Central Premier Division side AFC Hornchurch.
The omens are good for Bracknell who have twice played Premier Division opposition this season, taking Bognor Regis Town to a penalty shoot out in an FA Trophy replay and beating Folkestone Invicta comprehensively in the Quarter Finals of the Velocity Trophy.
That said, it’s still likely to be a stern test and one of the Robins longer away days this season – both Folkestone and Felixstowe & Walton United arguably suffered from a long midweek journey when visiting Larges Lane in previous rounds of the competition.
Low down on AFC Hornchurch
This season is AFC Hornchurch’s first back in the Bostik League Premier Division after winning Division One last season following three seasons away.
The Urchins are currently 18th of 22 in their division with six wins and 12 draws from their 29 games so far. They are four points above the drop zone with 13 games to go.
The club were formed in 2005 following the demise of then National League South side Hornchurch and placed in the Essex Senior League – a division they made short work of earning promotion back to the Bostik League at the first attempt in 2005/06.
The following season they won the Bostik League Division One North and spent five season in the Premier Division, winning promotion back to the National League South at the end of the 2011/12 season.
They spent one season there before returning to the Bostik League and dropped back in to Division One in 2015.
What Geoff Warner has said
Bracknell Town boss Geoff Warner spoke to Football in Bracknell this week about the size of the challenge awaiting the Robins, joking the biggest issue would be getting everyone around the M25.
He said: “We’ve got everyone available bar the two longer term injuries, the only issue will be the M25!
“It shouldn’t affect us though, we do have a minibus but logistically with players all working in different areas we can’t logistically do it all as a group like Folkestone Invicta did when they came to us on a coach.”
On the opponents, Warner said: “We have had a good look at AFC Hornchurch, they are a good side and Mark Stimson the manager was in charge of Waltham Abbey at the start of the season when we played them. We’re playing well at the moment though and I am confident.”
What about Mark Stimson then?
The Urchins boss has a decent managerial CV as well as a playing career that took in spells with Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle United and Portsmouth.
As manager of Grays Athletic he led the club to the National League Premier Division and FA Trophy success and has also had time in the dugout at Stevenage, Gillingham and Barnet.
Following Saturday’s defeat to Bognor Regis Town, Stimson spoke to Rocks Radio commentator Lee Roberts. He said: “The Tuesday night game is obviously a semi final so it’d be great to get to a final and then after that the Enfield game, they’re obviously looking to get in to the play offs and we’re looking to get out of the mess we’re in.
“I look forward to both games and just keep restating really, just put that performance in, possibly not against as good as a side as Bognor, because they do move the ball well, they’ve got mobility and a couple of guys on loan from pro clubs who you can see train every day so their fitness is superior but hopefully we can get two nice wins and have a better Saturday night than this one.”
AFC Hornchurch one’s to watch
Football in Bracknell spoke to Roberts following Bognor’s visit on Saturday and asked for a quick scouting report. Here’s his three to watch out for on Tuesday night:
With 15 goals this season Marks will be a huge threat to the Robins defence tonight. Pacy and with an eye for goal easily a dangerman for the Urchins
The left back is not afraid to get forward from his usual defensive role. With pace to burn he can cause any teams defence real issues if they take their eye off this talented defender
Hornchurch’s goal keeper has shown himself to be a real asset to the Essex side this season. Equally adept in saving shots low down or right in the corner as was shown in his last outing against Bognor Regis Town. The Bracknell front line will need to be firing on all cylinders to beat this shot stopper.
What about the ground?
We spoke to gotseats.co.uk Louis Maughan about the Urchins ground Bridge Avenue. He said: “I’ve only been there once but it was a well setup ground despite the athletics track. It has a great bar and clubhouse that overlooks the pitch and plenty of covered seating and standing areas.
“There is also a very good burger van in the corner nearest the bar. A bit of parking available but also right next to Upminster Bridge station. I wrote a blog for the Bostik League site on my visit last season for more information.
Main image: Jamie McClurg all smiles after Bracknell Town beat Folkestone Invicta by Neil Graham.