28 April 2019
Title hopefuls denied at the last
U14s defeated in championship decider
The rain had been and gone in the night, leaving the Southwater pitch in good condition and ready for a dry morning and a 10am kick off. Our local referee said the rain would hold off and so, under a cloudy sky, the game opened with Horsham playing confidently and Felpham responding to Horsham chances with some of their own. Within the first five minutes, Bernard sent a quick ball to Dan who crossed it in but it was picked up by the Felpham ‘keeper. Each team was testing the other out and this opening period of play finished with a Felpham save from Sam’s shot and a dangerous run down the middle that Louis was able to run on to and clear to safety.
Following this jumpy start there then followed a run of play down the left but Zack and Tate defended comfortably and kept the strikers away from Louis. Following a more settled spell, Louis cleared a loose ball by throwing it to Dan who spotted Sam, delivered an excellent ball down the middle which led to a save and a Horsham corner. This was a perfect opportunity for Horsham to open the scoring with Max firing the ball past the keeper on eight minutes. Horsham pressure was maintained following the restart with a shot by Dan going straight at the ‘keeper. Felpham did not really have any answers at this point and, as we were playing very high up the pitch, we were able to keep the pressure up and some great work by Sam and Max in the eleventh minute resulted in Max taking a shot which was saved. Collecting the rebound, Max passed it onto Sam who put it neatly away for 2-0 to Horsham.
Felpham were quick to respond and a minute later Horsham conceded a free-kick, just outside the box, resulting in the Felpham striker stepping up and sending a well-placed shot powering into the top left corner where Louis couldn’t reach it. The game then settled down and was quite even for the rest of the half. There were chances and pushing forward from both teams but luckily our defending was strong and sound and Zack, Tate, Harrison and Bernard worked hard together to keep Felpham out. Communication was good and the defence were getting the ball out to the midfield and wings who were also working hard; Bradley and Finlay on the left and Dan and Adam on the right.
A calm spell in the play followed and Finlay and Bradley came off and Keylan and Archie came on. The last ten minutes of the half saw a solid midfield and the wings working well with the defence to retain possession and avoid any action in the box. On thirty-one minutes this calm was broken with a Felpham shot that went wide and a was followed by a bit of fractious play before the break. Another Felpham free-kick sent in was headed wide and an unexpected long shot was covered by Louis. Horsham were denied further chances to score by the linesman awarding two offsides in a row but, at the half-time break, it was 2-1 with Horsham looking stronger and more confident.
The second half started with Horsham again looking lively with Felpham clearing off the line and Archie crowded out by the Felpham defenders. Sam had a shot stopped by the ‘keeper and again Horsham looked the stronger side. However Felpham were not to be easily beaten and the play swiftly changed to the Horsham end where a handball decision, just outside the area, gifted a Felpham equaliser from the follow-up from the well-delivered free kick.
Sensing Horsham’s despondency at being pegged back, Felpham were fired up and there followed fifteen minutes of Horsham defending and Felpham pressure. However, a break in the run of play gave Horsham a chance to show the skills that are in the team. Twenty-two minutes into the second half Sam received the ball in the middle, held it up really skilfully, passed it out to the right with brilliant timing to Dan who crossed it into the middle for Archie to finish neatly. 3-2 Horsham! Felpham were not going to take this lying down and once again they appeared galvanised from being behind. Their midfield and forwards kept pressing, Horsham’s defence was playing very deep, and we invited pressure. Tate and Matt were clearing well and working hard to keep Felpham out. During this spell Louis was kept busy, shots going straight to his hands and several diving saves and clearances from corners. Nails were bitten and nerves frazzled as the Felpham pressure increased, mainly on the left. Dan, Harrison, Tate and Bernard defended well but Felpham forwards were lining up to take shots so eventually the defence was broken down and Felpham equalised for the second time.
At the restart the referee signalled that there were four minutes left but, unfortunately, we were out of ideas and energy and Felpham appeared to want the game more. Lapses in concentration or just plain tiredness meant that Horsham conceded two goals in these final four minutes to lose the match 5-3.
This was a disappointing end to a disappointing half. Horsham had looked stronger, pacier and far more skilful during the first half, so to see this second half performance where they allowed Felpham to dominate was a real shame. The weather reflected everyone’s moods, as the full time whistle blew the heavens opened and the rain started to fall!
Horsham: Louis Masters, Bradley Bagnall, Finley Bagnall, Harrison Bradley, Zak Dear, Max Fitzimmons, Adam Fitter, Sam McMinn-Waller, Tate Stowell, Dan Woodward, Bernard Wraith
Subs: Archie Nicholls, Matt Range, Keylan Symonds
Man of the Match: Max