Horsham are in for a ‘stern test’ when we take on East Thurrock United on an action-packed Saturday at The Camping World Community Stadium, according to manager Dom Di Paola.

Ahead of our final home league game of 2019, we will be hosting a junior Christmas party from 1.45pm where kids can receive a gift from Howie the Hornet, create some awesome Christmas decorations, or have a dance at our disco.

Supporters are also invited to stay behind after the game to celebrate the end of an amazing year with food, music, live Premier League football, and an opportunity to mingle with the players, all on offer.

2019 has been a remarkable year for the club.  Earning promotion into a step three league for only the second time in our history, we’ve managed to hold our own, currently maintaining an impressive play-off position in the Isthmian Premier.

We also moved into our own ground for the first time in 11 years, an achievement regarded by many as our biggest success this decade.

Recent defeats to Margate and Folkestone Invicta saw us record back-to-back losses for the first time in over a year and we’ll be looking to return to winning ways as we welcome another tough challenge in East Thurrock United on Saturday.

The Rocks were relegated from the National League South last year and have gone somewhat under the radar this season, taking ten wins from 17 games, as they look to make an instant return to the league above.

Although currently outside the play-off places, the Essex side have two games in hand over us, meaning a victory for the visitors would narrow the gap between the two sides.

Di Paola is optimistic but cautious of East Thurrock’s ability. He said: “It’s a side packed full of experienced players, many of whom have played in the Conference South and higher, so we know we will be in for a stern test.

“We come into the match having lost back-to-back league games for the first time this season but are still in a strong position in the table ahead of the Christmas period, which we must all be happy with.

“We knew the last couple of weeks were going to be tough because of the number of players we had out but I’ve not been disappointed with the performances.”

He continued: “I know that some supporters have been disappointed about losing two in a row but that is the reality of this season and anyone who thinks we just have to turn up to win is in for a shock.

“Although we have had a fantastic first half of the season, I think we need to maintain a sense of realism and make sure we enjoy the good days when they happen. This season is about building some good foundations from which we can move forward.”

Di Paola also called on the home fans to help elevate the team, much like they did in Kent last week.

He said: “The players really appreciate it. What would be nice now is to transfer that atmosphere to our home games.

“Our crowds have been incredible this season and it has been brilliant to see so many youngsters. Hopefully they can become a sort of Junior ‘Lardy Army’ and really help raise those noise levels.”

Don’t forget, we are appealing for non-perishable food donations as part of our collection in aid and support of the Trussell Trust, an organisation that back over 1200 food banks across the UK.

No one should go hungry at Christmas so please be as generous as you can and bring along your donations to the game this Saturday. Members of our youth squads will be ready and waiting to accept whatever you bring.

Our membership cards will also be taking full effect, entitling you to discounts at the bar, and our fully-stocked club shop. Just present your card to a member of staff and we will do the rest!

Christmas raffle tickets will continue to be on sale tomorrow and at Tuesday’s Velocity Trophy game against Whyteleafe. If you have sold on any tickets please return the counterfoils and the money for them tomorrow.

Please also return any unsold tickets as we want to be able to redistribute as many as possible so no one misses out on a ticket in our biggest ever prize draw!

As usual, if you’re unable to make it, you can keep posted by following our regular live match updates on our Twitter feed @HorshamFC.

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