After three successive home matches, the Hornets take their unbeaten start on the road tonight with a trip to reigning champions Littlehampton Town (kick-off 7.30pm) where a two goal margin of victory could take Dom Di Paola’s side to the top of the table.
With just one goal conceded in their four matches to date, Horsham’s defenders will need to be on top of their game again as they look to keep out a side who hit ten at St Francis Rangers on Saturday and, in George Landais, boast one of last season’s most prolific marksman. The striker was the joint-leading scorer in the County League’s top flight last season with a record-equalling thirty goals and has already bagged a half dozen since the opening day of the current programme, including four in Saturday’s romp at the Colwell Ground. The Marigolds have, though, also been on the receiving end of a heavy scoreline themselves, when going down to a shock 7-1 home loss to Lancing in the opening week of the season and are currently one place below the Hornets in seventh spot after last night’s round of matches.
Littlehampton striker George Landais scored three times in eleven appearances for Horsham during the second half of the 2011/12 campaign
This may well prove, then, to be one of those games in which the opening goal is pivotal in deciding the outcome of the three points so Di Paola will be calling on his players to be more clinical in front of goal, despite having seen them score five against Shoreham on Saturday. “I watched the video back and I think we had thirty shots; sixteen on target and fourteen off so perhaps we should have had a better conversion rate” said the Horsham boss. “We did some work during the week on how to open teams up because we know some will come to just try and stifle us and I think we saw some of the benefits of that on Saturday. If I had to criticise, and it’s probably a bit harsh to do so as it was unbelievably hot, was that we were a little too open at times. But then we only really got caught out late in the game when maybe the concentration levels dipped a bit or we got a bit gung-ho. We had a nice win but we shouldn’t get carried away. Of course a win is worth celebrating but I don’t think it was Shoreham’s day. They’re not a bad side at all but they had problems with their shirts before kick-off and no doubt had other events on their minds, and then had to play an hour in that heat with just ten men so it was always going to be a struggle for them.
We’re not quite there yet but it was good to get some of the lads off the bench because we need to give everyone game time. In the next few months especially, we’re going to need to use the whole squad and if we’re still in some of the cups after Christmas then that will become even more important.
Littlehampton will be our biggest challenge yet. There was a real rivalry between us when we were at East Preston and there’s a few lads on each side who know each other pretty well so it’ll be a real test for us. On their day, Littlehampton are as good as anyone so we will have to make sure our mind-set is right and that we approach the game in the right way. It shouldn’t need to me to get the players up for this game at all. Littlehampton had a big win on Saturday but then so did Shoreham before we played them, and Lancing before that, so we won’t read anything into it. By all accounts St Francis Rangers have lost a lot of players and have had to get bodies in to make up the numbers but it doesn’t sound like some of them are up to the standard yet. But all credit to Littlehampton because it can be easy for players to fall in the trap of turning up at places like that and thinking the game is won without having to put the shift in. I think we might have been guilty of this against Lancing last week and perhaps I should have given them a bit more respect. Lancing have historically not been particularly good but they gave us a scare and looked like they could do well this season.
We’ll have to be on our game and we’re hoping that we might have Kevin Keehan back for this one but we need to make sure he is right before we bring him in. I don’t think we realised quite how serious his hamstring was before and probably rushed him back a bit too soon. There’s no doubt that Kevin will play a big part in our season and I’d take a couple of poor results without him in the side if it means him coming back fully fit.”