Harvey Sparks’ late winner ensured Horsham got their 2019 pre-season campaign off to a winning start in an action-packed encounter at The Shooting Field.
George Hayward opened the scoring after 16 minutes before Ryan Timms equalised for the hosts just four minutes later. Steyning took the lead on the half-hour mark through Ben Hand but the Hornets pegged back the home side almost immediately with Hayward grabbing his second.
Horsham retook the lead after the break, thanks to Sparks’ sublime near-post finish, but a stubborn Steyning side brought themselves level once more after Mayckol Sabino’s strong header.
Not to be outdone, the Hornets rallied once more and Sparks secured his brace with a fine last-minute effort to make certain Horsham got their pre-season fixtures off to a winning start.
The Hornets, despite fielding five trialists alongside their more established teammates, looked the more confident and organised side in the early exchanges.
Creating several chances, and forcing the Steyning keeper into action, Horsham looked set to find the breakthrough. And, after being awarded a penalty in the 12th minute, Charlie Harris expected to do just that, but he blasted his spot-kick well over the bar.
However, the visitors did not have to wait long to get their noses in front. Just two minutes later, a fine turn and cross from the left was met with a deft header by Hayward from six yards out.
Yet it wasn’t to be an easy night for the Hornets as a free-kick earned from their opponents first notable attacking move, resulted in an unchallenged Timms equalising with a firm header.
Somewhat against the run of play, Steyning took the lead in the 30th minute. A missed tackle on the half way line allowed Hand to close in on goal and pick his spot past the helpless Josh James.
Despite this, Horsham continued to look the more inventive side and equalised almost immediately, when Hayward, found on the back-post, tapped in his second.
Horsham had chances to retake the lead before the break however Rob O’Toole’s 38th-minute strike was judged offside and a Harris free-kick, shortly after, thumped off the woodwork.
HT: Steyning Town 2-2 Horsham
Both sides introduced several trialists for the second half and the game became a little scrappy as a result. Nonetheless, it remained competitive with neither side looking to settle for a draw.
Sparks put the Hornets back in front in the 55th minute, smashing the ball into the net, only to see Sabino equalise for the Barrowmen, with seven minutes remaining.
O’Toole went off injured in the closing stages, following a strong challenge on the half-way line, which left the Hornets down to ten men, but up stepped Sparks, whose cool finish was finally enough to seal the win to give Hornets boss Dom Di Paola a positive start to pre-season.
We next face Hartley Wintney this Saturday (July 13) in an historic match, which sees us play our first ever match inside our brand new home, The Camping World Community Stadium.
Tickets are still on sale, and supporters are reminded that you will NOT be able to purchase tickets on the day. Information on how you can buy your tickets for this landmark fixture can be found here: https://www.horshamfc.co.uk/2019/07/05/tickets-remain-on-sale-for-hop-oast-openers/