A bumper bank holiday awaits the Hornets as fans have two big games to look forward to over the next three days.
On Saturday, we make the trip to east London, taking on Tower Hamlets in the FA Cup Preliminary Round. Meanwhile, on Monday, we’re back in league action, crossing the Sussex border to face our old foes Lewes.
After last week’s impressive 4-1 thrashing of Enfield Town, Di Paola’s side will be in the mood to continue their positive form, with the boss wanting another professional performance from his squad.
The Hornets have never faced Tower Hamlets before. Formed in 2000, as Bethnal Green United, the club spent their first nine years moving around various amateur leagues before finally moving into senior football in 2009.
Speaking ahead of our trip to London, Dom said: “You just never know in the FA Cup. It is going to be a tough day, but we’ve just got to make sure we’re professional and do our jobs.”
An Essex Senior League club, Hamlets play two divisions below ourselves, and Dom doesn’t want a repeat from last year when Southern Counties East side Corinthian held us to a surprise 1-1 draw.
He said: “If you take anyone granted at any level, you’re stupid. I don’t think there’s such a thing as an easy game of football, a game where you just turn up and it happens.
“This is obviously a big game for them and I’m never complacent because you know it can come back to haunt you. We have just got to go there with the right approach, play to our potential and maximum, and that’s got to be the aim for the day.”
Following the FA Cup, the Hornets have another exciting tie to look forward to as we focus on the league once again, travelling to old foes Lewes on Monday.
After many close tussles over the years, games against our East Sussex counterparts, particularly at the Rooks’ Dripping Pan home, are always one of the most anticipated of the season.
Horsham have come out on top in three out of the last four encounters, although we were defeated in our most recent encounter, losing 4-2 away from home.
Joe Shelley, Charlie Harris and Steve Metcalf are the only members from the current squad to have played Darren Freeman’s side in the derby before, and Dom encourages Hornets fans to be the difference by kick-off.
He said: “It’s going to be a really tough challenge. They’re always well organised by Darren Freeman and they’re always going to be competing because he doesn’t stand for anything less.
“I know the supporters will be buzzing but I think they’ll also be a factor because, if they turn up, and be the supporters they can be, then that’s always a big help for the players because it drives them on a little bit. It could be a lively weekend.”
Di Paola has confirmed that Dylan Merchant remains sidelined, while Lee Harding is in contention, after overcoming an injury. However, the squad has been given a welcome boost by the return of Harvey Sparks, who is expected to feature in both games over the weekend.
Dom said: “It’s good to have Harvey back as we’ve missed him, in certain ways. He’s got that lovely left foot and gives us good balance. He’s just got to knuckle down and get his season going.”
Saturday’s FA Cup match at Tower Hamlets kicks-off at 3pm, at Mile End Stadium, E14 7TW and admission is £7 (concessions £3, U16s free).
Meanwhile, Monday’s trip to the Dripping Pan also sees us kick-off at 3pm, where admission is £12 (concessions £7, U16s free).
As always, supporters can keep updated via Facebook and Twitter (@HorshamFC), for both games.