Horsham made it four wins from four with a sensational come-from-behind win at Worthing that had their supporters eagerly awaiting the start of the new Bostik League season. Seemingly out of the contest at 3-0 down after fifty-one minutes, the Hornets stunned their Premier Division hosts with four unanswered goals that left the home side shellshocked and their own supporters singing in the rain.
Michael Hunter deputised in goal for the visitors, in the absence of the holidaying Josh James, with Darren Boswell, Darren Budd and Alfie Rogers starting the game on the bench, while Asa Nicholson, Alex Duncan and Lewis Hyde were among the other major absentees. For Worthing, who had recorded a praiseworthy 3-1 win at Eastbourne Borough the week before, all eyes were on the performance of former Hornet Tony Nwachukwu, who had turned his back in Horsham in the summer.
Joe Keehan had the first shot in anger after just five minutes, sending a powerful drive over the top from thirty yards, but Nwachukwu fired in an instant reply when he got the better of Steve Metcalf before shooting wide of the far post. Lucas Covolan got a hand to Rob O’Toole’s low cross to prevent Scott Kirkwood from giving Horsham a ninth minute lead and the ‘keeper had to be at his best again, two minutes later, when Adam Hunt’s corner picked out Metcalf at the far post. Omar Folkes spurned a great opportunity to open the scoring when put through by Ben Pope but Hunter stood up well to palm the shot away. But there was nothing the Horsham stopper could do when, two minutes later, Nwachukwu got away down the right and squared the ball for Folkes to slam the ball past Hunter from close range.
Pope should have made it two, moments later, but headed wide a terrific opportunity given to him by Ollie Bouding’s cross and James Thurgar went close to equalising when he got ahead of a defender to loop O’Toole’s nod down from Ash Jones’ free-kick over the bar, midway through the half. O’Toole claimed in vain for a penalty when he was bundled over in the box by Antone Douglas before The Hornets had a great chance to level the scores, just after the half hour, when Kirkwood’s far post effort was blocked but both Nwachukwu, who was thwarted by Hunter, and Kane Wills whose shot was blocked, spurned chances to double the home side’s advantage before the break.
H/T: Worthing 1 Horsham 0
Adam Hunt should have made Worthing pay, straight after the break, when his close range header was blocked and, within minutes, The Rebels struck again when a long ball caught out the full-back and Luke Brodie’s low cross was turned in by Pope. Horsham went further behind when Worthing ignored what appeared to be valid appeals for offside and Sam Rents cleverly lifted the ball over Hunter for number three. Dom di Paola responded by sending on Farmer, Boswell, Budd and trialist Toby House with the former going close to reducing the deficit with a header from a Kirkwood corner.
Boswell sliced an ambitious effort wide from twenty-five yards before Kirkwood pulled one back, winning a challenge on the edge of the box and stroking the ball past Covolan. It was 3-2, five minutes later, when Budd cleverly picked out House who turned well before slotting home. Folkes might have restored the two goal advantage after a smart move with Pope, but shot over, but the comeback was complete when House found the the overlapping full-back who scored at the near post.
Three goals apiece, going into the final ten minutes, and it was the Hornets who looked the most likely to get the winner. Incredibly it came, eight minutes from time, when House’s low cross was forced home by O’Toole and the former Burgess Hill man might have made it five when he scuffed his shot and then Budd’s follow-up was well saved by the ‘keeper. A Budd free-kick was deflected wide in the closing moments as Horsham held out for a morale-boosting victory with the start of the new season just a fortnight away.
Reporter: Mark Wells
Match photos available here, courtesy of John Lines