A strong Tooting & Mitcham side, fielding three first team squad players in their starting eleven, ended the young Hornets’ unbeaten run in their Bluefin Sports Insurance Development League encounter last night with a dominant display not reflected by the 1-2 scoreline.
The visitors showed their intent right from the first whistle with their high tempo and pressing game putting the young Hornets on the back foot and, with only 6 minutes on the clock, took the lead through Nebay Haile, the former Staines and Ashford Town striker. Through a mixture of good fortune and desperate defending, Horsham managed to keep the deficit to just one goal until finally the Terrors put some distance between the two sides with a second goal in the 65th minute, once again courtesy of Haile.
The Hornets stuck manfully to their task though and, in the 76th minute, clawed a goal back through striker Archie Goddard, offering them feint hope of a comeback. But an equaliser never really looked likely and the visitors saw the game out to deservedly take the 3 points.
Horsham, who like to retain the ball and pass and move, were knocked out of their stride from the off by the aggression and pace of their opponents and to concede a goal so early, with only 6 minutes on the clock, certainly did not help their cause! It was a fine goal though, Terrors striker Nebay Haile climbing highest to meet an in-swinging free-kick from the right to beat Hornets ‘keeper Lewis Blaney with a powerful header. Just after, the visitors nearly extended their lead but this time Blaney was able to get his hand to a header which brushed the top of the crossbar for a corner .
Horsham were unable to find a way to get their forwards into the game and had to wait until the 16th minute for their first attempt on goal which came from Sam Karl, who put his shot just over the bar. It was pretty much one way traffic, though, with Tooting smothering the Horsham midfield and hitting long balls into the channels for their speedy strikers. Former England schoolboy player Kyrique Garvey Williams was a constant threat down the right with his speed and dangerous crossing and, just before the break, a shot from his ball into the box was well saved low down by Blaney .
H/T: Horsham 0 Tooting & Mitcham United 1
The visitors opened the second half knowing that they needed at least another goal to put this game beyond doubt and they nearly got it within a couple of minutes of the restart. Haile, with several first team appearances this season, went close when he smashed the ball against the bar from 25 yards. Further chances went begging for the visitors, Blaney making another good save when rushing out to block and, on 55 minutes, Haile hit the woodwork yet again. However Haile was not to be denied and, in the 65th minute, he got his second of the night with a drilled left foot shot into the net to give his team the cushion of a two goal lead.
In a rare Hornets attack, Kieran Britland made a driving run that took him into the visitors box, with the ball falling for Will Gordon but his shot was deflected for a corner. In the 76th minute, panic in the Tooting defence saw the ball finally fall to Hornets striker Archie Goddard and he fired in through the flailing legs to reduce the deficit and give his team a lifeline. With Harry Brooker replacing Gordon, the Hornets now had three attackers and were going more direct in an effort to salvage something from the match. However it was too little, too late, and the Terrors saw the remaining 10 minutes out to take all three points.
The Horsham youngsters should not be too despondent with this defeat though, they showed plenty of fight , put bodies on the line at times to stay in the game, and it’s all part of the steep learning curve for Mark Hawthorne’s newly assembled team.
Horsham: Lewis Blaney, Ned Pierre, Kieran Britland, Trent Fawcett, Joel Mann, Matieus Malugeta, Kieran Holmes (Torin Paget), Will Gordon (Harry Brooker), Archie Goddard, Harry Law (Lewis Kelly), Sam Karl Subs: Harry Brooker, Lewis Kelly, Torin Paget, Jack Gunn (GK)
Report by Darryl Jacobs