Tuesday 10th December 2019
Bluefin Development League South
The Camping World Community Stadium, Horsham
Horsham U23s 3 Three Bridges 2
Att: 58

Horsham’s U23s came from behind yet again with a hard-earned 3-2 victory against Three Bridges at the CWCS last night. Two goals from Rob O’Toole, one of three senior players in the starting line-up alongside Alex Kelly and Lee Harding, and a late own goal earned the Hornets the win that lifted them into 3rd place in the Bluefin Development League South table.

Horsham, short of defenders, were set up in a 3-5-2 formation but any plans of playing possession-based passing football were made extremely difficult by the swirling wind and rainy conditions. 

The first chance to come their way arrived in the 10th minute when a fiercely driven cross from Harding was met by striker Archie Goddard but was off target while, at the other end, Joel Mann made a timely tackle to block for a corner.

As the game took shape, Bridges were starting to pose a threat down the right wing with pacy wideman Vincent Muwanga, a 1st team squad player, prominent in several good attacks. In the 17th minute he went close with a shot that flew just wide of the post and another effort from the Bridges striker Benjamin Bacon forced Horsham ‘keeper Seb Jacobides into a smart save.

However it was Horsham who were to strike first when Goddard’s effort from distance was pushed away for a corner by ‘keeper Joshua Page. From the resulting kick, the ball came out to Sam Gallagher who sent a measured cross into the box which Harding met with a looping header that hit the underside of the bar and fell into the path of O’Toole for an easy tap in.

But the visitors were level within minutes when striker Isaac Gardiner found himself unchallenged and in ‘acres’ of space in the box, with time to coolly slot into the right hand corner of the net for the equaliser.

An injury to Harry Law, just on the half hour mark, saw him taken off and replaced by midfielder Mateius Mulugeta. O’Toole had the ball in the net just after but was flagged offside and then Harding beat two men down the right wing and whipped a ball across the goal but no one was able to get a touch.

The half-time verdict – honours fairly even but the Bridges making better use of the ball, the Hornets a little sloppy in possession and not working hard enough off the ball.

The enforced substitution of Will Gordon, on for Injured Kieran Britland at half-time, caused a reshuffle of the back line. Gallagher went to left/back, skipper Alex Parsons dropped in to the right-back position and Gordon went wide left in midfield.

The young Bridges side, not looking like a bottom of the table team, took the lead in the 50th minute. A fierce free-kick, which Jacobides failed to hold, fell kindly to Bacon who gobbled up the chance to put his side 2-1 up. Shortly after, the same player forced a good stop from Jacobides.

At the other end, Gallagher fed a good ball into Harding who beat a couple of defenders but didn’t really got hold of his right foot shot which was saved comfortably by Page. 

As the game entered the final twenty minutes, much in the same way as the earlier fixture between the two sides had been in September, Horsham began to get on top. Goddard shot low from outside the box, which Page gathered at the second attempt, then came the breakthrough in the 72nd minute when O’Toole, always a handful in the air, nodded over the ‘keeper for 2-2.

O’Toole had the ball in the net yet again,  almost immediately, but was caught offside as the Bridges rearguard, for the first time in the match, started to creak. Then, with a little under ten minutes remaining, Gordon managed to wriggle his way clear on the left and smashed the ball across the face of the goal which the despairing defender could only manage to turn into his own net. 

Horsham went close to extending their lead in the dying minutes when a Mulugeta near post corner from the right was flicked on by O’Toole to Goddard who unluckily hit the foot of the post. But, on the balance of play, anything more than a narrow defeat would have been unfair on a competitive Three Bridges side.

Horsham: Seb Jacobides, Sam Gallagher, Joel Mann, Kieran Britland (Will Gordon), Alex Kelly, Sam Karl, Alex Parsons (C), Harry Law (Mateius Mulugeta), Lee Harding, Archie Goddard, Rob O’Toole

Match report by Darryl Jacobs


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