Horsham are just one win away from guaranteeing a place in the Bostik South East play-offs thanks to a 3-1 win in their penultimate ‘home’ game of the season against Sevenoaks Town.
It was another routine victory for Dom Di Paola’s side, who baring any sort of catastrophe in their remaining four fixtures, look set to be amongst the favourites as we bid for a place in the Bostik Premier Division for next season. The Hornets broke the deadlock midway through the first half with Rob O’ Toole’s diving header, but missed the chance to double their lead minutes later when Chris Smith struck the post from the penalty spot. Not that it mattered, as Smith grabbed the second three minutes after the restart and O’Toole sealed the win when he rounded goalkeeper Ben Bridle-Card to put Horsham in total control. Town’s Adrian Stone managed to grab a late consolation as Horsham showed some sloppiness in the final ten minutes.
The more critical of fans might have been a bit disappointed to have failed to keep a clean sheet, but in truth Horsham were lucky not to have fallen behind in the second minute as they made a sluggish start to the match. As Harvey Sparks conceded a cheap freekick just inside Horsham’s own half, The Oaks pumped the ball long into the mix, and as Lauris Chin collected a pass, he turned and ran into the box, shrugging off his marker and shot at goal, Josh Pelling managed to parry the ball out, but as the ball came back to Ryan Fowler, he then struck the post, while Sevenoaks twice more missed the rebound with Kyle De Silva seeing two efforts blocked on the line by some desperate defending.
The Hornets soon woke up and had their first real chance on thirteen minutes. Steve Metcalf threaded a ball down the channel for Tyrell Richardson-Brown to chase, he travelled down to the by-line and squared into the six-yard box, but the incoming Rob O’Toole couldn’t reach, sliding in a little too late as the ball rolled beyond him.
A well worked Horsham corner was then nearly turned in after O’Toole’s header on was flicked towards goal from four yards out but caught by the alert Bridle-Card, but the Sevenoaks ‘keeper was caught out on twenty-one minutes as Horsham took the lead.
It came from another Horsham corner, this time taken short to Chris Smith, who returned to Lee Harding, Harding’s drive deep at the far post brought Bridle-Card out of position who failed to claim the ball, and as Joe Shelley nodded back into the six-yard box, O’Toole made no mistake with a diving header.
Smelling blood, Horsham looked for their second of the game but it took a smart save from Bridle-Card to deny them from doubling their lead with ten minutes of the half remaining as Harding broke down the left wing and managed to find space for himself to shoot from the edge of the box, however his well struck shot was saved acrobatically from The Oaks shot-stopper.
At the other end, Alec Fiddes’ half-hearted attempt from outside the box never looked like bothering Pelling who gathered up, as Horsham continued to look the more threatening of the two sides. A great move from Horsham failed to pay off with Harding released again to sprint down the wing, but this time, his clipped cross into the box was hit just wide on the volley from O’Toole.
The chances continued to come and go for Horsham, as Richardson-Brown used every inch of his pace to beat Bridle-Card to Metcalf’s forward pass and poke towards goal, but with his shot going wide across the face of goal, O’Toole again could not force the ball in as he run through just late.
Horsham were given a superb chance to put themselves in total control six minutes before the break when referee Mike Desborough ruled for a pull back in the area and pointed to the spot. For the assailant Kieran Hughes, it proved a double whammy with the full back requiring lengthy treatment and needing to go off. With the delay taking up to four minutes until Smith could finally take his spot kick, it almost felt inevitable he would miss, and so it proved as he hit it low and hard but into the base of the post.
H/T: Horsham 1 Sevenoaks Town 0
Any fears that Horsham would rue missing so many chances were alleviated three minutes into the second half as Smith atoned for his earlier spot kick miss when he turned in O’Toole’s low angled cross, sweeping in under the legs of Bridle-Card from close range.
With Oaks now pretty much killed off, Horsham proved for a third goal as Harding showed good strength and pace to skip beyond his marker and get to the edge of the box, but his shot was weak and easy for Bridle-Card to gather cleanly.
There was little Bridle-Card could do though during Horsham’s next attack. Richardson-Brown’s world class through ball totally split apart the Sevenoaks defence and gave O’Toole a clear run at goal. It was a picture-perfect pass for the Hornets hitman who raced clear, rounded the keeper and slotted into an empty net.
Harvey Sparks had a great chance with fifteen minutes to go when he opened up his right boot and looked likely to make it 4-0, but he drove inches wide.
With the hosts more than happy to sit back and contend with what they had, complacently began to creep into The Hornets side as they gave up what would have been a third consecutive clean sheet when Adrian Stone was allowed to rifle in through a crowded box at the near post.
Horsham now go on the road with consecutive visits to Kent, starting with a trip to Sittingbourne on Saturday.