Horsham left it late to secure a 0-2 win against Potters Bar Town this afternoon, a win that keeps Dom Di Paola’s side top of the Isthmian Premier League for another week at least.
Horsham fans arriving at the Pakex Stadium might have wondered if they had turned up at the wrong destination upon walking through the turnstiles as they were greeted with a sizable contingent of Norwegian flags and Scandinavian accents. Looking for an obscurely known club to follow and pay an annual pilgrimage to, the Norwegian fans had chosen The Scholars randomly and certainly brought some noise to brighten the atmosphere despite the lack of quality on what was a sticky pitch.
However, the away fans were silenced with less than five minutes remining and with the game appearing destined to finish a drab 0-0, a thundering shot from Lea Dawson finally broke the deadlock and gave the game a much-needed lift, and then three minutes later, Lee Harding added a second to seal the points.
Victory for Horsham was harsh on the hosts, with neither side able to produce much of an end product for the vast majority of the contest that could be best described as a game of attrition for long periods.
The home side had the first real chance of note on seven minutes. A high ball over the top was chased down by Ben Ward-Cardle who attempted to chip the onrushing George Bentley, but his snatched shot resulted in the ball travelling harmlessly wide of the bar.
Midway through the half, Horsham’s 2015/16 Player of the Season, Joe Shelley almost converted at the back post from Jerry O’Sullivan’s corner, but his goal-bound header was blocked on the line.
O’Sullivan flicked a header towards goal that was easily plucked out by home goalkeeper R’avan Constable whose command of his box looked assured.
With little to report, Horsham could have snuck in at the break with a 0-1 lead when another corner was sent direct into the six yard box, but despite Jack Brivio being allowed a free header, his nod down was straight into the clutches of Constable.
H/T: Potters Bar Town 0 Horsham 0
Looking to add more dynamic to his attack, manager Dom Di Paola threw on Kieron Pamment in exchange for O’Sullivan, but the contest continued to play out on a knife edge. Scholars hitman Brad Sach attempted to open the scoring in the 51st minute when he hit a long-range drive that was spilled by Bentley, but the Hornets ‘keeper gratefully recovered well enough to smother the loose ball before Stefan Powell could pounce on the rebound.
Midfielder Thomas Gogo summed up the game thus far when he dragged woefully wide following a mazy dribble high up in Horsham’s half – his hands clasping the side of his head summing up his and the home supporters’ thoughts.
Horsham closest attempt of the game then came to Lee Harding who headed at goal only for Constable to tip over the bar with an acrobatic save.
At the other end, Imedd Kartita smacked a dangerous fizzing effort low as his run allowed him space yet despite looking to finish across the face of goal and aiming for the far post, his shot was struck wide.
With Bar gradually getting on top, Bentley was forced into making several stops in quick succession. First batting away Gogo’s flicked header, and then diving to prevent a long range follow up hitting the back of the net, however despite spilling the ball, the former Brighton & Hove Albion Academy product was back on his feet to deny Sach’s at his near post with a fine double block.
With Horsham panicking at the back and struggling to deal with a freekick send into the mix from the right flank, Sach then let the visitors off the hook as he misfired wide as the game increasingly feeling like it would end goalless.
Harvey Sparks led a Hornets counter attack with 15 minutes remaining when he whizzed in a low cross towards Rob O’Toole, but the striker found the ball stuck underneath his feet as Town promptly cleared.
But just when both sets of supporters began to settle for a point and a 0-0 draw looking like a fair reflection of the game, Horsham snatched the win on 86 minutes. Di Paola’s side have created a nice habit of late winning games with late goals, and for the travelling Horsham supporters, the joy experienced when Lee Dawson showed fantastic technique to rifle home the rebound from Charlie Harris’ initial blocked strike will never grow old.
And the visitors sealed the win three minutes later when Harding went on a run beginning from just inside Potters Bar’s own half, the forward rode the challenge of William Wambeek and emerged with the ball where he just had Constable to beat, and he took his chance smartly, slotting the ball into the net to ensure stoppage time would be a formality.
Reporter: Matt Dale