Horsham bounced back from their mid-week loss away at Hastings United in the league, to secure progress in the Buildbase FA Trophy thanks to a 1-2 win away at Bury Town.
The draw to the Suffolk town of Bury St. Edmunds meant a six hour round trip for Horsham supporters, who would have noted it as being the home of sugar makers Silver Spoon and as such victory and an additional £2000 in prize money, would have made the return leg of the journey home all the more sweet for the few dedicated Hornets fans who ventured up the M11.
Ominously, the two sides met eleven years to the day in the FA Cup, when Horsham ran out 3-2 winners on our famous cup run that culminated with the Second Round Proper tie against Swansea City, however the last time the two sides met, The Blues ended Horsham’s stint in the then named Ryman Premier Division as a 3-0 loss confirmed relegation. This time however, goals from Rob O’ Toole and Tyrell Richardson-Brown settled an old score, as Bury forced in a consolation deep into injury time.
With the game just four minutes young in the bright September sunshine, Bury found themselves with the first real chance of note, when striker Ollie Hughes had a half chance that should have been simple enough for Josh Pelling to deal with in goal, yet the goalkeeper spilled the ball as Dylan Merchant mopped things up behind him on the line.
Charlie Harris then fashioned Horsham’s first attempt on goal, with a snatched shot on the half volley as he tried to get the ball under his spell, but the forward got his technique all wrong as he sent the ball harmlessly wide.
Richardson-Brown’s pace was providing a good outlet for Horsham’s attack as he burst down the wing as The Blues defence stood off him, but The Hornets failed to flood the box in time as his inswinging ball into the six yard area was hooked clear by Ian Miller.
A clever piece of skill from Blues midfielder Jake Chambers Shaw saw the tenacious attacker evade his man and send through a dangerous ball for teammate Tanner Call, yet Horsham cleared as he failed to control.
Horsham were forced into a substitution on sixteen minutes when Lewis Hyde went in for a header on goal and clashed with home goalkeeper Luis Tibbles, and with blood pouring from the embattled defenders head, Dean Lovegrove was sent on to replace him with the 2017/18 Player of the Season ironically commenting as he left the field that his contribution had been worth the three-hour journey.
Bury looked to take advantage of the change in personnel two minutes later as Hughes powerfully sped down the pitch and cut inside before he sent in a low centre ball across the edge of the box, yet his teammates where nowhere near the ball as the chance was wasted.
Substitute Lovegrove’s stooped header towards goal resulted in an appeal for handball from the visitors that referee Alistair Wilson ignored as the game continued to go from end to end.
The hosts then had a great chance to break the deadlock when Call’s chipped shot was headed away by Pelling, only for the ball to land at Hughes’ feet, and despite getting his shot away with Pelling back-peddling to recover, the visiting shot-stopper done well enough to get a glove to the ball as Horsham successfully defended. A minute later Ryan Horne’s drilled effort fly inches over the crossbar as he let fly from outside the box.
Horsham finished the half strongly though, as they hit the woodwork twice in as many minutes. Richardson-Brown’s trickery on the wing brought the ball into the box from a wide position, and his pass found it’s way to O’Toole, who thought he has converted on the spin from close range, only for Tibble’s quick reactions to force a glove on it and send it out for a corner as it clipped the top of the bar.
Horsham then won a free kick in a dangerous position on the edge of the box that Joey Tayler whipped in, as Joe Shelley’s flick saw him hit the upright.
H/T: Bury Town 0 Horsham 0
Having failed to go in with the lead, Horsham needed just two minutes after the break to edge themselves in front. A long ball out of defence from Steve Metcalf was pumped forward for Richardson-Brown, who despite appearing to be offside continued his run as the flag stayed down, and he slid the ball across the face of goal for O’Toole to tuck away with a smart finish.
O’Toole was unlucky not to double his, and Horsham’s goal tally moments later when his rasping effort smacked the stanchion as The Hornets threatened to tighten their grip.
With Bury now struggling to create chances of their own, a looping header by Horne was easily plucked out by Pelling, while Chambers Shaw’s desperate attempt on the inside of his right boot from twenty yards out was saved from leaving the ground by the safety netting behind the goal as the game began to get a bit niggly on the pitch between the sets of players.
Pelling though was forced into making a fine save to ensure his side’s lead remained intact from Horne’s great effort some twenty-five yards out, stinging the hands of the Horsham ‘keeper who did well to palm away with an outstretched save while he also got down quick to smother a low daisycutter from full-back Jake Kerins.
Having lost Hyde earlier to injury, an awkward fall for O’Toole saw his participation cut short as he limped off having sustained an injury to his quad muscle with Harvey Sparkes sent on to replace him.
Bury began to sense it was now or never as they searched to drag themselves back into the game, with Ryan Jolland tricking his way past his marker to deliver a dangerous low ball that Merchant directed out to safety, but wayward finishing from the home side let Horsham off the hook with time ticking down when somehow Emmanuel Machaya failed to convert a delicious whipped in cross from Horne as he failed to make any proper contact with the ball.
But with six minutes of injury time shown, Horsham killed the game off to rule out any chance of a late salvage job when Richardson-Brown used his pace and height to nod the ball clear of the last defender and home in on goal, where he fired in off Tibbles to sow things up.
With the game now over its allotted six minutes added on, a late consolation goal for the hosts was bundled in by Hughes following some great work down the wing by Horne, but it all but delayed the inevitable as The Hornets set up a home tie with Ware Town in the next round.
Reporter: Matt Dale
Match photos by John Lines