Striker Chris Smith needed just fifteen seconds to fire Horsham in front at Whistable Town, as his brace sandwiched either side of Lee Harding’s first goal of 2019 goal helped The Hornets on their way to a comfortable win on the North Kent coast, and move us up to second place in Bostik Division One South East.
The goals all came in the first half as Horsham raced into 3-0 by half time lead and as they saw out the second half in comfort, the visiting fans were given further good news as they discovered they had leap-frogged Ashford Town and Hastings United, who both suffered surprising defeats elsewhere.
On a beautiful, sunny afternoon Horsham got off to an incredible start with many fans yet to take up their positions around the ground. From the kick-off Steve Metcalf pumped a long ball forward which was helped on by Keiran Lavery into the path of Smith who fired past home goalkeeper Dan Eason from an acute angle.
Despite such an early goal, the game took a while to get going with the next meaningful action coming in the eleventh minute when Stuart West had to be alert to head away a dangerous cross from Harding from underneath his own cross-bar.
Josh Pelling was then tested for the first time punching away an awkward Louis Sprosen cross, whilst from the resulting corner West headed wide.
There were claims for a penalty when Smith appeared to be tugged back but the referee waved away the appeals whilst at the other end home skipper James Morrish’s deflected effort failed to test Pelling.
With Horsham on top, the closest The Osytermen came in the entire match came was on twenty-seven minutes when Sprosen curled a shot wide after latching onto a miscued clearance. Horsham then put themselves firmly in the driving seat with a second goal a minute later. Smith fired in a snap shot which Eason beat away, Lavery was first to the rebound and he delivered to the far post for Harding to bravely force home from close range as he collided with the frame of the goal.
Smith then blazed over from a Lavery pull back before Joe Shelley was booked for a foul on Nick Treadwell. Shelley was involved with the third goal a minute before the break. The commanding centre back sent a sumptuous cross field pass over to Harvey Sparks who teed up Jack Brivio and West was penalised for handling the Hornets skipper’s shot inside the area. Smith stepped up to cooly send Eason the wrong way.
Harding might have added a fourth before the interval but didn’t make contact with a header from Metcalf’s cross.
H/T: Whitstable Town 0 Horsham 3
The second half wasn’t quite so much of a spectacle as Horsham pressed the cruise control button with the sole purpose of seeing out the game out. Harding twice forced comfortable saves from Eason and Lavery headed a corner wide with twenty minutes to go.
Manager Dom Di Poala withdrew Brivio with one eye on Horsham’s game on Tuesday at East Grinstead, and handed a debut to new signing Dan Hogan. The former Crystal Palace youngster showed some neat touches as his new team retained a tight grip on the game. A strong run from Harding saw him drill a shot over whilst Smith forced Eason into denying him a hat-trick with a couple of routine saves.
With the home side failing to test Pelling at all in the second half Di Poala was able to give O’Toole and Metcalf some down time with Tyrell Richardson Brown and Scott Kirkwood coming on respectively. Kirkwood picked up a caution for a high foot but in truth that was as fraught as it got for The Hornets who moved ten points clear of sixth place Whyteleafe in the play-off race.
With Horsham heading into the business end of the season in good form and with another vital three points in the bag, attention now switches to the rearranged local derby at East Grinstead Town on Tuesday evening at East Court.
Reporter: Mark Barrett