“We didn’t play that well” was Dom Di Paola’s surprise admission after last night’s big win at Littlehampton, adding that the victory owed as much to the champions’ own ill-discipline as own his side’s attacking play. Shamus Wiggans, Ross McKay, Scott Packer and George Landais were all booked, along with Horsham’s Mark Knee and Charlie Farmer, while home player-manager George Gaskin was dismissed for picking up two cautions by busy ref Con Da Costa in an often physical contest. “We have a bit of history with Littlehampton” admitted Di Paola, whose East Preston side fought out many a competitive local derby with the Marigolds in recent seasons. “We’ve beaten them in finals, semi-finals and the league so maybe that’s a part of it and it’ll probably be like that all the time we’re at the club. But we expected it and my players didn’t allow themselves to get involved so all credit to them for that. The funny thing is that I know the players at Littlehampton and they’re all good lads. But football can be like that sometimes. Once you cross that line, all friendships are forgotten and you have to get on with it. We don’t have players like that but I’ve got no problem with teams playing to their strengths, in fact I would go as far to say that I have a bit of respect for sides who do that. We saw how successful Stoke City were under Tony Pulis, where they bullied sides, but our strength is our football. We don’t have players who will go out an intimidate an opponent.”

The Hornets held a slender 2-1 advantage at half-time, thanks to a first goal for the club by Scott Murfin and one from Darren Boswell, but the manager was unimpressed by his side’s start to the second half. “We were sloppy. Our preparations weren’t ideal because some of the players didn’t arrive until just before kick-off, but I can’t explain why we were so poor at the start of the second half. Fortunately we got the third goal and then they lost the plot a bit after that and imploded. Until then we had to toil a bit. It was a terrible goal for us to let in, a free header from a corner, but I don’t think Gareth had a save to make all night otherwise.”

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