Horsham tightened their grip on second place in the Bostik South East Division and secured a home tie in our play-off semi final in what was described as a ‘stroll in the sunshine’ against a hapless Favesham Town side.
Horsham have continued to impress their supporters this season, who have seen their side surpass all expectations and mount a serious assault in their bid to gain promotion, but while they would have expected to have won against the Lillywhites who have struggled throughout this campaign, the loyal Hornets fans who have continued to make the trip to Lancing for the second season running would have expected a little more fight from the Kent side, who failed to register a single effort on target throughout.
Quite what veteran striker and former Horsham man Carl Rook would have made of his teams’ performance one will never know. In a link from Horsham’s past, ‘Rooky’ was a firm favourite at Horsham who played under memorable teams under the stewardship of former Hornets boss John Maggs at our old Queen Street ground. Over ten years later, he could only look on as an unused substitute as his former side took his teammates to the cleaners to score four without reply.
It was perhaps a victory that underlined the journey that Horsham had taken in those ten years since Rook departed the club. With the clubs fall and subsequent rise, homelessness, to the verge of moving into our much-anticipated new ground next season, and – while it is by no means certain – on the cusp of potentially gaining promotion back to the Isthmian Premier Division.
Horsham began this game on the front foot from the off, when in just the third minute, Jack Brivio stuck low from the edge of the box as he looked to fire his side into an early lead, however his effort lacked the conviction needed to deny visiting goalkeeper Will Godman in between the sticks.
Five minutes later, a mix up at the back in Faversham’s defence offered Chris Smith as he looked to sniff out a chance, but with Lee Harding making himself available, the striker failed to pick out a pass towards him as Ryan Huckle mopped up at the back.
However both Smith and Harding were instrumental in creating Horsham’s first of the afternoon in the twelve minute. With both players inside the box, Smith’s initial weak shot was stopped by Godman low down, and as the ball bounced back to Harding, he found his follow up effort blocked by Dan Carrington, Smith then immediately tried again with his second shot, only to kick the ball straight at Carrington and the defender watched in horror as the ball flew back off his body and into the net.
From then on, Horsham would never look in any danger of not winning, as they looked to score a second goal in more orthodox manner. They had a superb chance ten minutes later to double their lead when an over the top ball dropped down and was met by a first time volley by Smith, with just Godman to beat having sprung the offside trap, he smashed it goalbound as he met it with his laces, only to fire straight into the chest of the keeper who saved bravely.
Horsham fashioned another effort just before the half hour mark when Harding’s cross into the box caused all kinds of confusion for the visitors, and as it struck the cross bar, the ball fell to the feet of Smith who saw his shot cleared off the line by Huckle.
Any fears that Horsham would waste further chances were allayed shortly before half time as Horsham doubled their lead. With a cross sent into the box Lee Harding was afforded time to chest down and volley towards goal, Godman parried but he had barely got back up onto his feet when George Hayward demonstrated great technique to rifle home for Horsham’s 100th goal of the season in all competitions.
Horsham went close to adding a third two minutes before the break when O’Toole laid the ball into the path of Hayward who hit a rising shot from outside the area, but this time he watched his attempt narrowly clear the crossbar.
H/T: Horsham 2 Faversham Town 0
Any plans Faversham might have had for a second half fight back were snuffed out within two minutes of the restart when Di Paola’s side effectively killed the contest dead. It was simple stuff from the home side’s perspective as Smith easily got forward wide, and squared it to Harding who couldn’t miss.
Horsham grabbed their fourth and final goal before the hour mark. Some more appalling defending from Town allowed Harding to run deep into the opposing half as he capitalised on a sliced clearance, and as he made his way into the outer edge of the box, he fooled his marker and hit low into the far bottom corner.
A flurry of substitutions showed Hornets supporters that Di Paola had an eye on keeping his side fresh for a Bank Holiday visit to Guernsey, but despite Horsham taking their foot off the gas slightly, Horsham continue to do all the attacking without getting out of third gear, such was Faversham’s total inability to make any effort on the game. The guests struggled to cope with a lovely floated chip in from the right wing from Steve Metcalf while they eventually cleared, while later on, Godman once again was required to keep out a shot with his feet from substitute Kieran Lavery who tried to plant one in low down.
The on-loan Dorking Wanderers man then showed some fancy footwork as he jinxed his way into the box, but he strode too far as Godman gathered.
With Easter Monday’s game against the Channel Islanders our final game of the league campaign, The Hornets will have to wait to find out who they take on in our play-off semi final to be played at Culver Road on Monday 29th April.