By JOHN CHUBB
It was a winning start to 2020 in Isthmian Premier League for high-flying Hornchurch who are in fourth spot after beating third-placed Horsham 2-1 at home.
The Sussex side went in front with 23 minutes played when Greg Cundle found the net.
But veteran front duo Rickie Hayles and Chris Dickson struck back to give Urchins all three points.
East Thurrock United hosted second-placed Worthing at Rookery Hill and stopped their visitors from topping the table in a goalless draw.
The point they earned kept Rocks in 8th place in the league standings.
And Bowers & Pitsea also picked up a point as they drew away to Bishops Stortford.
Rob Small’s men led twice through Bradley Warner and Max Cornhill.
But Stortford’s vastly experienced player-manager Jamie Cureton belied his 44 years by grabbing a brace to make the final score 2-2.
In the Isthmian North it was business as usual on Saturday for leaders Maldon & Tiptree, who remain unbeaten and fought off the stiff challenge of second-placed Aveley by defeating them by three goals to one.
Jerome Slew netted a double for the Jammers before Wyan Reld pulled one back on 53 minutes.
But with 8 minutes remaining Ryan Charles headed home to make sure of three points for Wayne Brown’s team.
The match between Grays Athletic and Heybridge Swifts ended in a 3-2 win for the visitors.
Manny Ogunrinde put Grays ahead on the half-hour mark, but Evans Kouassi, Odei Martin-Sorondo and Harrison Chatting fired Swifts into a 3-1 lead before the break.
Ogunrinde got his and his side’s second midway through the second period, but it turned out to be a consolation.
Heybridge are fourth and Grays dropped a place to 9th.
Brentwood Town had a massive result, picking up three much-needed points in their fight for survival as they won 1-0 away to 7th-placed Coggeshall Town.
Rene Batlokwa scored the only goal of the game just after the break to put his side seven points clear of bottom club Romford, whose match against AFC Sudbury at the Brentwood Centre Arena failed a late pitch inspection.
Coggeshall ended the game with 10 men following George Cocklin’s 55th minute dismissal.
Honours were shared at Chadfields as Tilbury drew 1-1 at home to Witham Town.
Witham led going into half-time thanks to Declan Nche but Eljay Worrell levelled for the Dockers three minutes into the second half.
Tilbury are in eighth place and Witham are currently 15th.
Canvey Island enjoyed an impressive and much-needed win away to promotion-chasing Bury Town, where they secured a 1-0 victory.
Sam Bantick’s 53rd minute goal took the Gulls up to 10th place in the table.
And Basildon United remain in 17th spot after a 3-3 draw at Histon.
Danny Gould put the home team in front after 20 minutes before Adam Vyse equalised in the 34th minute.
But Lee Smith restored Histon’s lead almost immediately and Ed Rolph made it 3-1 six minutes after the restart.
But the Bees made a spirited comeback with Jimmy Cox reducing the deficit, before Vyse secured a point with his leveller six minutes from time.
In the South Central Division fourth-placed Waltham Abbey continued their fine form, cementing a place among the promotion pack with a 1-0 win away to Uxbridge.
Charlie Edwards’ goal after just four minutes was enough to give Abbey all three points.
And a fourth minute goal also gave Harlow Town a 1-0 victory at home to Staines Town, Billy Jones the scorer.
The Hawks are in 8th place just behind Barking, whose home match against Bedfont Sports was postponed due to a waterlogged Mayesbrook Park pitch.