Horsham U23s recorded a fairly comfortable Bluefin Development League win against visitors Phoenix Sports last night at the Camping World Community Stadium and, in so doing, put an end to the Kent side’s six match unbeaten run.
For a change, the Hornets got off to a flying start and went ahead through prolific marksman Archie Goddard with barely two minutes on the clock. Although Phoenix huffed and puffed and enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, they created very few chances against a solid Horsham defence superbly marshalled by returning first team player Will Miles. Also appearing for the Hornets was another senior, Kieran Lavery, coming back from a lengthy spell out injured, and he provided assists for the two Horsham marksmen; Goddard with the first and Will Gordon with the decisive second. After that it was game management for the Hornets to secure three more points and a leap up to second place in the table.
The visitors were caught cold, conceding a goal from Horsham’s very first attack. A ball fed down the right wing was picked up by Lavery and he made ground down the line before hitting a low hard cross into the box which visiting ‘keeper Bradley Morgan spilled into the path of Goddard, who calmly poked in with his left foot for his 9th League goal of the season. Phoenix looked to play their way back into the game and had plenty of possession but created very little in the way of chances. Their six-goal striker Callum Keeble, and his imposing forward partner Frederick Agyemang, were unable to get on the ball, often outnumbered by Horsham defenders.
When in possession the Hornets were hitting long balls to catch Phoenix on the break but on too many occasions Goddard and Lavery were caught offside. However the defensive stranglehold was certainly effective with the composure, leadership and aerial dominance provided by Miles ensuring that the only work required by Hornets keeper Lewis Blaney was a couple of routine saves from distance. Horsham nearly extended their lead just before half-time with a clever free-kick from the edge of the box. Goddard ran forward as though he was going to strike the ball but dummied, leaving Lavery to come in from the other angle and fire a good shot on target which the Phoenix ‘keeper pushed away for a corner .
H/T Horsham 1 Phoenix Sports 0
At half-time Horsham left-back Kieran Britland, still feeling an injury from the match against Hastings, was replaced by Sam Gallagher. It was deja vu at the start of the second period as the visitors were once again stunned by the ruthless finishing of the Horsham strikers. In the 49th minute a ball knocked forward from defence was flicked on by the head of Goddard, finding Lavery in space. He neatly shimmied past his defender, advanced on goal, and hit a low left foot shot which crashed against the foot of the post and came out to Gordon who gobbled up the chance to put Horsham in charge of the match.
Just after, Goddard got on the end of a through ball and outpaced the Phoenix defenders, advancing on goal with Gordon in support, but elected to shoot and was thwarted by a good blocking save from Morgan. Another chance came for the Hornets when Sam Karl was put through one-on-one with the keeper but Morgan managed to block with his body. A rare threat on Horsham’s goal came in the 65th minute as a mix-up between the Horsham defenders resulted in a breakaway opportunity for Phoenix striker Agyemang, but Miles was alert to the danger and made a great stretching last ditch recovery tackle to snuff out the danger. Shortly after, a free-kick was hit with plenty of venom by the visitors’ Emmanuel Oshinowa that, fortunately for the Hornets, went over the bar.
There followed another period of possession for Phoenix and they were camped in the Hornets half for ten minutes but still carried little threat to the organised Hornets defence. As the game entered its final stages, there were a few hunched shoulders amongst the Phoenix players as they looked resigned to accepting that this was not going to be their night!
A breakaway situation for Horsham looked threatening as Lavery stretched to poke the ball on to his supporting striker but he was hit by a late tackle which resulted in a booking for Phoenix defender Joe Smith. Both players were in some discomfort following the challenge but Smith came off the worse and had to be replaced. Mark Hawthorne made his last substitution soon after when replacing the tiring Lavery, who had worked hard and effectively, with a fresh pair of legs in Lewis Kelly to see out the final minutes.
Team : Lewis Blaney, Ned Pierre (C) , Kieran Britland (Sam Gallagher,46), Harry Law, Will Miles, Trent Fawcett, Sam Karl, Matieus Mulugeta, Kieran Lavery (Lewis Kelly), Archie Goddard, Will Gordon (Kieran Holmes,58) Unused sub: Ross Butterfill