Substitute Darren Boswell’s injury time equaliser saved Horsham from defeat against third-from-bottom East Grinstead on a bitterly cold Saturday afternoon at Culver Road. Having missed a penalty in the first half, and spurning numerous chances throughout, it appeared Horsham had missed their chance to haul themselves further up the league table and were set to suffer a damaging second consecutive defeat after last weekend’s 1-0 loss away at Phoenix Sports, as Jordy Mongoy’s strike mid-way through the second half seemed set to earn The Wasps a surprise victory against Dom Di Poala’s side. However, Boswell’s late introduction secured a deserved point for The Hornets and left the visitors with a share of the spoils as they head back to East Court.
Having overcome Littlehampton Town in midweek, Di Paola made three changes to the side, with Jack Hartley, Jack Newhouse and Matt Boiling all restored with Charlie Farmer, Matt Axell and Josh Street making way, and for the visitors, returning Hornet Ollie Gill lined up against his old side.
Barely sixty seconds had passed when East Grinstead Town were afforded the first sight on goal. Joe Shelley’s poor control at the back, allowed Jordy Mongoy in with a sniff, but his low shot was too weak to trouble Brannon Daly.
With Horsham appearing sloppy from the off, it was then the turn of Wasps’ captain Steve Springett to try to force the ball in the back of the net within the box following a scrummage for a loose ball, yet Steve Metcalf’s excellent body block prevented the visitors from taking the lead. Three minutes later, some further pressure from East Grinstead almost bore fruit as Ollie Gill swung his boot as the ball dropped down towards him, however his contact was poor as he looped upwards for an easy catch by Daly.
It proved to be a wake up call, as Horsham began to attack their guests and on nineteen minutes, Horsham were granted an opportunity to break the deadlock thanks to referee Peter Cruise. A raking long ball sent Liam MacDevitt on his way down towards the by-line, and with Callum Wilson struggling to contain the pacy forward, a slight clip sent the Horsham man tumbling over in the box. It appeared a soft decision with the travelling supporters believing he had gone to ground quite easily, but with Mr Cruise in a great position to see, there was little hesitation as he pointed to the spot. However, goalkeeper Dan Smith earned his side a massive reprieve, as he dived the correct way to parry Scott Kirkwood’s effort.
Within seconds of the penalty miss, Horsham then wasted a glorious chance to find the net as Shelley’s intelligent lofted ball caught out Grinstead’s defence, and as Metcalf collected and closed in on goal with the flag staying down, the collective groans around the ground pondered at how he somehow managed to blast wide as he tried to slot the ball between the post and Smith’s body.
By now, Horsham were the team asking the more pertinent questions of their opponents, as a powerful run by Alex Duncan had The Wasps’ defence stretched, yet as the cross came in, a superb goal line clearance by CJ Williams-Agunabor ensured the game remained goalless, with MacDevitt unable to get to the ball first as he slid in behind.
East Grinstead continued to offer up their own questions, with the game becoming more end-to-end and when Charlie Postance was set free curtesy of a great through ball, he was unlucky not to score when he hit it low and on the turn, as he tried to defy a tight angle, with Daly diving low brilliantly to get a strong hand on the ball.
East Grinstead were determined to finish the half strongly, when with four minutes remaining, Duncan was shrugged away by Oshaye Giraud-Hutchingson who did well to control the ball and bring the ball towards the edge of the box as he went past his marker, however his finishing was disappointing as he fired across the face of goal, but narrowly wide.
H/T: Horsham 0 East Grinstead 0
A guess into Di Paola’s half time team talk might have suggested that his Hornets side needed to find a way past The Wasps sooner to prevent a sucker punch blow, and thus, The Hornets started the second half brightly as they went about looking to get the first goal that this game needed.
Yet further wastefulness presented itself, when a great chance was nearly orchestrated by Duncan, who collected and brought the ball to the by-line before sliding across the face of goal, but with no one there to turn it in.
For all Horsham’s ingenuity, a killer final ball was serverly lacking, as another trademark lightning quick run from MacDevitt allowed him to burst forward and cross low into the six-yard box, however Gill did well to turn the danger away.
Horsham went closer still when after winning a corner, Joe Shelley sent the ball back across goal, but Toby House proved unable to convert from close range, as a sea of East Grinstead defenders blocked follow up shots.
The next miss however, was quite remarkable. Some classy build up by Horsham resulted in MacDevitt creeping in behind the Wasps’ defence and appearing like he would apply the finish, yet with the ball appearing destined to head into the net anyway, House’s stretched out leg surprised everyone as he, from two yards out – somehow – managed to hoof over the bar, with the linesman’s offside flag up and ready to spare his blushes.
Several minutes later, Horsham were made to rue their earlier misses. With MacDevitt losing possession, Callum Wilson ploughed up down the far wing, and crossed beyond Daly, where Jordy Mongoy turned the ball home, off the inside of his boot from four yards.
House was then unable to redeem himself for his earlier (albeit offside) miss, when Horsham went for the route one approach. A Superb long ball from Shelley appeared to have unlocked the Wasps’ defence, as House gave chase and successful eluded his marker. Yet despite a one-on-one situation at the edge of the box, House amazingly dragged his shot wide.
East Grinstead appeared content to emerge with all three points by containing and shutting out Horsaham, as they began to sit back and defence with ten minutes of normal time remaining, and it appeared the tactic would pay off as once more, Horsham seemed unable to make the final ball count.
However the duo of Dean Bown and Darren Boswell, having both come off the bench with less than twenty minutes to spare made sure Horsham would not be denied something for their afternoon’s toil. With five minutes of added on time shown, Di Paola urged his side forward in search of the elusive goal, and when Bown’s cross came off the top of the bar and bounced back into play, Boswell reacted quickest, rushing in to convert the rebound to the delight of the Horsham supporters.
However there was still time for a nervous finale to the match, when in the final minute of stoppage time, The Wasps won a free kick in a dangerous position and as the ball was curled around the wall, it took a magnificent save from Daly to ensure a share of the points, as he made a fine fingertip safe at full stretch.
Reporter: Matt Dale