Sunday 1st December
Arun & Chichester League
Winter Cup (Cedar League)

Owen Strudwick capped a tremendous fightback with the winning goal as the young Hornets turned around a three goal first half deficit to record their third Winter Cup success in four games.

Horsham started the match well, against a Chichester side a player short due to illness, and in the second minute Harry Grubb, James Dodd and Max Plinston combined to set up Luca Browning whose effort was just too high. Strudwick then looped a shot over the goalkeeper and crossbar before Horsham were caught by a quick counter-attack from which Chichester took the lead with a well-struck effort that flew inside the near post.

The home goalkeeper produced a brave save to prevent Dodd from hitting an immediate leveller, that left him needing attention, and at the other end his opposite number did well to save after a defensive miskick fell kindly for a Chichester player. However, the hosts were not to be denied when, two minutes later, a corner dropped invitingly into the box and was knocked over the line before it could be cleared.

Horsham got a foothold back in the game when determined work by Plinston resulted in a low cross that was missed by a defender and rammed home by Sammy Painter from close range. The two goal lead was restored instantly, though, when Chichester’s number 11 hit a sweet left-footer into the far corner and, a minute later, showed clever footwork and a fine finish to make it 4-1 and complete his hat-trick.

A heavy defeat looked on the cards for the Hornets but they ended the first half strongly and, after Plinston had seen a good effort well pushed out by the goalkeeper, Dodd powered through the home defence to make it 4-2. Then, on the stroke of half-time, Sam Abrehart reduced the deficit to just a single goal.

The second half became a contest of Horsham versus Chichester City’s goalkeeper as, time and again, the young stopper came between the visitors and a heavy defeat. The half was just two minutes old when Abrehart put one just wide from a Harry Duvergier corner and then saw another effort deflected just off target via a defender’s boot, with the goalkeeper twice called into action from the resulting corner as, first, he kept out a header and then blocked well from Abrehart.

The positive start got its rewards when Abrehart drew the sides level with his second of the match and he went close to putting his side ahead when, after the ‘keeper had done well to keep out Grubb’s looping cross, his follow-up was blocked by the busy Chi goalkeeper. The Horsham striker was frustrated by a quite brilliant save, a minute later, and the home stopper earned his luck when Plinston went through to put Horsham ahead only to shoot wide.

The battle between Abrehart and the goalkeeper continued when the Chichester player came out on top in a one-on-one, after Abrehart had raced through from halfway, but he was spared any more heroics when Abrehart went through again but, this time, fired over the top. A Horsham goal was an inevitability, though, and came with just over ten minutes remaining when Strudwick headed in a Duvergier corner to make it 5-4 to the visitors.

Dodd attempted to increase the lead from distance, but found the goalkeeper in the right place to save, and then Chichester went narrowly close to getting back on terms through a dipping drive that only just cleared the frame of the goal. Lewis Nayson, who replaced Botevyle in goal for the second half, pulled off a fine save as Chichester threw everything into finding an equaliser, and was well-positioned to field a powerfully-struck free-kick from distance.

The Chi ‘keeper drew warm applause when, once more, he came between Abrehart and his hat-trick with another brave stop and was on the spot to keep out Plinston following fine work by Noah Ashton. There was one late scare for the Hornets when, in the final minute, the big defender barged his way through two challenges only to drag his shot wide.

Horsham: Theo Botevyle, Zack Langford, Sammy Painter, Ted Jacobs, Max Plinston, James Dodd, Harrison Grubb, Jack York, Owen Strudwick, Harry Duvergier, Noah Ashton, Luca Browning, Sam Abrehart, Lewis Nason


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