Horsham climbed up to eleventh with a 3-1 win against Sussex rivals East Grinstead Town at Culver Road, as The Hornets impressive form continued.
Cup exploits in recent weeks have proved something of a distraction at the expense of our league involvement, thus the chance to pick up some points in the Bostik League in what was Horsham’s first league match in over two weeks was taken with both hands as goals from Joey Taylor, Will Hoare and a sublime chip from Chris Smith ensured Dom Di Paola’s side leapfrogged the visitors in the table.
The win will no doubt fuel belief that Di Paola has put together a side that this season may well knock on the door of the play-off places in the league, and able to head into games with the optimism, if not expectation that Horsham should win more games than lose this campaign with a top ten finish more than achievable given how recent results have gone.
Horsham got off to the perfect start on just four minutes. After Joey Taylor failed to control a pass inside the box from Jack Brivio two minutes prior, the Montserratian International found the back of the net in fortuitous fashion, when his dangerous cross was inadvertently turned into his own net by Ryan Johnson.
Despite the ideal start, Horsham’s game management was less than ideal in the following sixty seconds that followed, and after giving away a soft freekick some thirty yards out close to the corner of the box, Dean Gunner’s set piece appeared to drift past everyone inside the box and crash land into the net to restore the equilibrium.
Town’s Nico Cotton almost took advantage of Horsham’s defence switching off at the back when he ghosted in behind the defence and managed to take a pot shot directly at Josh Pelling that that the Horsham goalkeeper scrambling away, while at the other end, Oliver Boulding’s timely headed clearance off the line saved visiting custodian Sheikh Ceesay’s blushes when he allowed himself to be drawn out by Rob O’Toole, who took it beyond him and crossed towards goal.
Horsham would soon restore their lead on twelve minutes through a superbly orchestrated move by Tyrell Richardson-Brown who turned his marker inside out with a deft flick to evade a challenge and as he surged forward he was supported by Will Hoare to lay the ball onto, who with plenty of time and space fired in a composed finish low down.
Richardson-Brown’s pace was causing the visitors problems, as he again managed to trick his man and keep the ball before sliding across to O’Toole, yet the striker’s delay allowed The Wasps to close him down as he saw his effort deflected out for a corner.
With Horsham continuing to probe for a third, a Charlie Harris daisy-cutter from twenty-five yards out forced a comfortable save from Ceesay, but the visitors went close two minutes from the interval with a double block on goal as Harris and Joe Shelley both put their bodies on the line to clear fierce efforts from Adodje Yao and Cotton respectively.
However, Taylor spurned a fine chance to put clear daylight between the sides before the break, when he was found totally unmarked just inside the box, but despite bringing the ball into his favoured left foot, he booted directly at Ceesay to let The Wasps off the hook.
H/T: Horsham 2 East Grinstead Town 1
The visitors went into the second half looking intent on pulling themselves level, and they went close but for a clawed Pelling stop from Yao’s shot after he had burst into the box.
With Horsham playing deeper, the guests began to sniff out openings, but were largely finding themselves reduced to pot shots as Horsham looked content to soak up pressure and hit them on the break, but Pelling was again called into action to smother low down as he reacted to Karn Miller-Neave’s deflected shot.
A double substitution for Horsham resulted in Tyrell Richardson-Brown making way for former South Park hitman Chris Smith, while Jack Brivio came off for George Haywood as Di Paola looked to shore things up, but Smith inadvertently got in the way of Horsham adding a third goal when he found himself in the way of Joe Shelley’s bullet header from the back post as he rose to nod a corner goalwards.
Horsham continued to look edgy at the back, with Pelling struggling to deal with a tricky looking cross that threatened to fall into the back of the net, but despite spilling his catch, he managed to do just enough to prevent the ball crossing over the line.
Smith nearly made the game safe with ten minutes of normal time remaining when he raced through and battled with Johnson, but despite emerging with the ball, and managing to knock it past Ceesay who had come off his line, the Wasps defender recovered superbly to stick to his man and dispossess the Horsham striker.
Yet Smith would not be denied his goal and wrapped up the game for Horsham when he was set free one-on-one with seven minutes remaining and deftly lobbed Ceesay with an exquisite chip that dropped perfectly underneath the crossbar.
The points already safe, Smith came close to grabbing his second of the game when he launched another counter as Horsham ran at The Wasps’ defence, with O’Toole tripped up during the build-up, the referee John Pike allowed play to continue as Smith continued his run at goal alone, and his cross-cum-shot hit the base of the post.