A second visit to Essex within a week resulted in a slightly better outcome for The Hornets, who returned back across the Dartford Crossing with a point after a tough 1-1 draw with Hornchurch.
Horsham’s form since the season began has been inconsistent at best, despite early optimism with Dom Di Paola’s impressively assembled squad leading to suggestions that The Hornets might make the play-offs this season. But with both The Hornets and The Urchins struggling to find consistency and hovering in mid-table, it was perhaps typical and expected that they would have to settle for a share of the spoils, with this point leaving Horsham 12th in the league stable, with 11 points from nine games.
Having been humbled 3-2 away at East Thurrock on Tuesday evening, another lengthy trip back to Essex would have been something most people involved with Horsham would have wanted to avoid so soon. Arguably though, it was a point that Horsham will be happier with amongst the two sides, pitting their wits against a physical team and at times, an intimidating crowd as Horsham went in front thanks to a bullet header from Rob O’Toole who converted from Charlie Harris’ corner, but were dragged level when Chris Dickson levelled from the penalty spot with 20 minutes remaining.
The hosts got the game underway, and had the first chance of note on two minutes when Ellis Brown was fed through thanks to a lovely slide rule pass, the striker stepped past Dylan Merchant to create space and struck low and hard, but it was too direct for Bradley House, who made the save.
Four minutes later, Hornchurch won a free kick that was swung in from the right, Chris Dickson launched himself at the ball, but forced a simple catch from House.
The Hornets had a good chance when Kieran Monlouis sprinted forward with the ball and held off his man, before delivering a cross into the mixer, goalkeeper Joe Wright flapped the ball under pressure from Rob O’Toole, but the hosts managed to hoof the ball clear.
A minute later, Dickson got into a great position when he looked to get clear of the defence, but his decision to blast a powerful shot from 20 yards out when he could have continued his run saw his effort parried away by House.
Charlie Ruff then drew some ‘Ooohs’ from the crowd when he hit a dangerous drive narrowly wide.
It was Horsham though who drew first blood when they won a corner on 27 minutes. Harris’ delivery into the box was perfect, and up went O’Toole, who took advantage of Hornchurch’s static defending to guide the ball into the net with a firm header.
Harris attempted to double Horsham’s advantage when he clipped a rasping shot low and wide after Monlouis had raked the ball back to him just after the half hour mark, while Chris Smith also had another good chance to extend the lead further when he was sent through on goal, the striker looked to slip the ball low and underneath the Urchin’s shot-stopper, who did well to block with his legs.
Horsham had House to thank for keeping their lead intact at the break when Ruff took a touch to bring down a long ball over the top, but the Hornets goalkeeper anticipated it well to smother the danger.
H/T: Hornchurch 0 Horsham 1
Having taken a knock to the head earlier in the first half, O’Toole was replaced by Reece Hall ten minutes into the second period, in a move that caused Horsham to gradually lose their grip on midfield as The Hornets slowly became more defensive.
An excellent interception by Will Miles kept Horsham in front when he got in the way of Dickson’s goal bound shot to took the sting out of it for House to pick up safely but on seventy minutes, House was picking up the ball from his own net anyway when Hornchurch won a penalty.
With Jordan Clark clean through inside the box, a desperate challenge from behind brought down the midfielder leaving referee Mr. George Warren little option but to point to the spot. Dickson’s penalty was coolly dispatched to the left of goal, with House diving the wrong way.
House was at least spared from severe embarrassment when he allowed a routine 25 yard shot from Dickson to spill through his gloves, substitute Alex Osborn rushed in to force the ball into the net – which may have already been heading that way regardless – but from an offside position, his interference with play saw the linesman raise his flag as Horsham and House earned a massive reprieve.
With Horsham struggling to get out of their half, Harvey Sparks forced a heart-in-mouth moment when he nodded out to concede a corner at the back post as he cleared a threatening deep cross, but with the final minute of added on time, Harris had a chance to snatch what would have been a dramatic late win when he lined up a freekick but bent his dead ball delivery around the wall and past the post.
Report: Matt Dale
Image Credit: Peter Trinder