6 January 2018
Horsham 3 VCD Athletic 2
Vickers are shot down by Hornets, who climb table to 11th
We welcome VCD Athletic to Culver Road for the second of a ‘home’ double header, following on from our excellent 2-1 victory against league leaders Lewes just under a week ago.
Manager Dom Di Paola revealed he was in buoyant mood following The Hornets’ impressive result against The Rooks, but was eager to remain grounded as he revealed to Matt Dale “it was a good performance all round, looking back, the only disappointment I have was that we didn’t get a point away at Carshalton, as it would have been nice to have got through the Christmas fixtures without losing, but we’ve done well overall”.
Against Lewes, Horsham quickly headed into a 2-0 lead, but an injury to Brannon Daly changed the complexity of the match when the Hornets shot-stopper had to be stretchered off a minute before half time, but Di Paola insists the injury didn’t phase the management “I said to the boys at half time what they needed to do, and that was to carry on doing what they were doing as up until that point, Lewes hadn’t really threatened us. The biggest problem wasn’t that we lost Brannon, it was that we had to take Charlie Harris out of midfield, I wasn’t concerned about him going in goal as he’s got some experience as a ‘keeper anyway”. Di Poala admitted that he was delighted with the way his squad dug deep to pick up the victory, as he continued “what changed on the pitch, was the fact the boys got a bit nervous, that’s understandable and we obviously dropped back a bit because of it. Overall though we did well, there are ways to win games and we did just that. The lads knew before the game that this was an important derby for the club, and we gave ourselves a good platform with the early goals before seeing it out”.
The Hornets’ boss dismissed ideas that the Lewes result highlighted the inconsistency that has occasionally crept in during Horsham’s season as he explained “if you look at the season in general – we’ve done alright – i’m proud of how much the team has improved. Yes, we had a tough period in and around the four weeks when we lost at Cray, but there hasn’t been too many occasions when i’ve really felt we looked shaky. What Lewes showed is that we can compete at this level and demonstrated how important it is to keep our concentration for a full 90 minutes, the only time I can say we probably weren’t happy that we didn’t do that was when we squandered it at home to Chipstead, and away at Hastings United”.
Looking ahead to Saturday’s game, Di Paola reveals that his preparations ahead of VCD Athletic will be no different to that of the visit from the league leaders, with The Vickers coming into the game in 19th position, four places and five points behind ourselves. “it makes no difference to me who we’re up against, it doesn’t matter if it’s Lewes or VCD. Every game in this league is difficult to play against, and a lot of these teams have got some real talent and some great players playing for them”.
The match will be just the second time the two sides have faced each other, with our only previous meeting coming in The FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round in September 2012. It took a single goal from Billy Medlock to separate the two sides on that day, as Horsham ran out 0-1 winners away at The Oakwood.
With Brannon’s injury due to be fully assessed, Di Paola has moved quickly to bring in 2016/17 Player of the Season Josh Pelling, and the gaffer believes that despite the popular shot-stopper being the standout player from last season, this time he feels collectively the squad has improved making it harder to name any single player to have caught his eye. “Obviously Josh has done us a big favour coming in and will no doubt do a great job for us. I know last season he was the stand out man for a lot of our supporters, but I think this time he’s coming into a team where we’ve improved all over the pitch. I don’t like to name names, but if i’m pushed, i’d say there’s a few of them who have definitely got better from last season with us – Al Duncan has probably played some of his best football in all the time he’s played for me, and lets not forget he’s been injured as well early on during the season. Toby House is growing constantly and I believe he’ll do brilliantly in the future, and I think it’s fair to say results have changed for the better since Biff (Joe Shelley) rejoined the club but then we all know what he brings to the team. The key thing for us is that as a team, they’re all getting better together and some of them are just about to come of age a bit”.
Our visitors tomorrow VCD come to Culver Road having lost their last two fixtures, however they have gained four points from their last four matches including a surprise 1-0 win away at high flying Corinthian-Casuals.
We get underway on Saturday at 3pm.