Horsham U18s fell to a 1-0 defeat against Burgess Hill Town U18s in the FA Youth Cup Preliminary Round on Monday night, but there were plenty of positives to take for the newly-formed young Hornets.
The visitors had a number of chances on the night, but some solid defending from the Hillians stopped them from making the breakthrough with the hosts able to snatch the winning goal on 84 minutes.
Horsham got the game started and within the first two minutes, Callum Hames earned a corner for the visitors. The corner was whipped in and caused trouble for the Burgess Hill goalkeeper who could only concede another. Unfortunately for the Hornets, it came to nothing.
Two minutes later and Horsham had another chance. H Hazell pulled off some great attacking play and was able to pick out CGibson, but he couldn’t quite make solid contact with the ball and the goalkeeper was free to collect.
On six minutes, the hosts had their first chance of the game when their shot was deflected for a corner. The ball was played in, but the header down was well cleared off the line by the Horsham defence.
Three minutes later, a long ball was played down the left-wing for Adam Adam, but as he looked to pull the trigger, he was prevented from doing so by a great tackle from the Burgess Hill defender.
Nearing the half-hour mark, H Griffiths was called into action in the Horsham net, getting down low to his left to deny a Burgess Hill effort.
And the Hornets’ shotstopper was on hand only a minute later when he tipped a Burgess Hill shot, which looked destined for the top corner, around the post.
Closing in on the end of the half, Horsham were on the attack again. A Clifford made a good run down the wing and was able to cut into the Burgess Hill box and find Hazell, but his goal bound effort was blocked for a corner which came to nothing.
The hosts threatened again, squeezing in one final chance before the half-time whistle, as a strike was sent crashing off the crossbar.
The second half started with dramatic pace as the hosts thought they took the lead. An effort looped over Griffiths and into the net. However, the referee was quick to blow his whistle and bring play back for a high boot.
On 48 minutes, Hames pulled off some great defending to deny Burgess Hill. He initially lost the ball after a sliced effort, but his pace proved to be key as he got back and was able to win Horsham a free kick.
The game continued at a high tempo and on the hour mark, Horsham had another chance. Adam nicked the ball off the defender high up the pitch and drove towards goal. The no.10 won a free kick after being fouled, but his effort was comfortably saved by the opposition goalkeeper.
Ten minutes later and it was another free kick opportunity for Horsham. Adam stepped up to take again, but his effort was smashed straight into the wall and the home side were able to clear.
After an even spell, the breakthrough finally came, in favour of the hosts. A corner was played into the front post and the attacker was able to get the run on his defender, heading the ball past the goalkeeper in the 84th minute.
Burgess Hill almost doubled their lead two minutes later as a corner caused confusion in the penalty area, but the Horsham defence were able to clear it off the line.
With time running out, the Hornets searched desperately for an equaliser, but it just wasn’t to be their night as the referee blew his whistle for full-time, ending Horsham’s FA Youth Cup journey before it had really begun.
Horsham Man of the Match: Adam Adam
Horsham team: H Griffiths, A Duneclift (71′ C McTigue), A Furneaux, N Guest, K Stephens (C), A Clifford, C Hames, N Pickering, H Hazell (53′ J Archard), A Adam, C Gibson (66′ E Lawes). Unused subs: L Hutchison, S Jacobides, G Ikhlef.
Report by Marcus Lee