We knew this was going to be a hard game as Chichester were runners-up to Rustington Otters last season. These fears were confirmed two minutes in when they had their first shot on target, luckily this was saved confidently by Louis. Chichester looked well organised but we managed to break through and on five minutes a shot by Sam hit the post. We had to defend a lot all through the game and over the next few minutes Tate defended strongly at the back. It would prove to be a physical game with a lot of pressure from Chichester. The next few minutes saw several Chichester corners, the first cleared easily, the next headed out by Bernard and the third ricocheted round the box and was finally cleared off the line by Bernard. The final corner in this cluster went for a throw-in, this one was cleared by Tate.
After a bit more play at the Horsham end, Chichester kept up the pressure with another corner pushed out up the right. Every time Horsham got the ball out it came back again with Tate, Bernard and Harrison being kept really busy. This spell of pressure ended with a save by Louis which led to a run by Adam who was on his own. After nineteen minutes the deadlock was broken when a Chichester goal kick finished in a run up the left and a well taken goal by Chichester. The away side did not sit back. They piled on the pressure and within five minutes a shot was cleared off the line by Harrison with the resulting corner and scramble in the box closed off by Louis getting his hands on the ball. By this time Horsham must have been praying for half-time so they could have a rest! Frantic defending, shots over the top and off the post meant Chichester could have been two or three more up by the time the whistle went.
On 29 minutes Horsham got a corner but it went straight over everyone and soon it was business as usual with another Chichester corner. Horsham did not give up though and following some basic defensive mistakes by Chichester that let Sam and Adam in a shot went over the bar. Unfortunately the play went straight back to the Chichester end and there was more work for the defence. Tate and Harrison looked strong though and a bit more defending concluded with the half time whistle bringing some relief to the boys.
The second half started as the first half had ended; two minutes in a shot was cleared by Bernard and further Chichester pressure meant that Louis was kept busy again. He narrowed the angle on one attack so that when the shot came it went wide. There was a further spell of Chichester pressure from the left, but we were able to slow them down by having to look for the ball in the bushes! Chichester had a great opportunity to increase their lead after five minutes with a shot that hit the bar, bounced down and was safely cleared by Bernard. Then the boys were given a breather as the ball was lost in the bushes once again!
As mentioned Chichester were a strong physical team and they conceded a free-kick that was taken by Dan. He fired it powerfully into the box but it was saved by the Chichester keeper. The game quickly switched back to the Horsham end and this was when we conceded our second – a long shot taken by Chichester came off Louis’ hand, he stopped it, patted it down but it just went over the line. 2-0 to Chichester. Thankfully Horsham did not loose their cool and they remained a tight unit. The midfield and defence had to manage a strong well-organised Chichester team who could not find the target again.
Our defending was solid, clever judgements from Louis, well-timed tackles from Tate and Harrison, as well as a few long shots that went wide and an offside decision meant that the score remained at 2-0. Chichester had another spell of pressure halfway through the second half with several corners and a hopeful long shot that hit the bar (again!), Louis punched one corner out and some great work by Bernard, Harrison and Tate demonstrated the strength in our team as well. Our midfield ran their socks off, Adam in particular as well as Bradley on the left and Finley on the right who worked hard throughout. Keelan and Zak enjoyed his first game for Horsham and looked comfortable working in the middle with Dan and Adam and later Matt.
For the last ten minutes Chichester had another spell where it looked like they might score. They hit long shots and were getting frustrated that they could not find the target and were not winning by more. The game finished 2-0. This was a tough game against a tough team but we battled hard and the Horsham boys showed great spirit.
Manager Ian Scott said: “Chichester are a very strong team and we worked hard to defend well. I felt we deserved at least a point as it was such a positive team performance”
Horsham: Bradley Bagnall, Finley Bagnall, Harrison Bradley, Zak Dear, Adam Fitter, Louis Masters, Sam McMinn-Waller, Tate Stowell, Keylan Symonds, Dan Woodward, Bernard Wraith
Subs: Alex Power, Matt Range