They say in football that if you don’t take your chances, you get punished, and so that old proverb proved to be true once again, as a clinical Ramsgate side scored from all four of their shots on target to dent Horsham’s aspirations of a top ten finish.
Despite looking the better of the two sides and having plenty of chances, Horsham found themselves behind early on in the first half but scored a deserved equaliser just before the hour mark. Yet a further two goals within a crazy three-minute period saw Horsham fall further behind as Aaron Millbank secured his hat-trick while Alfie Paxman made the scoreline rather flattering for the guests as he finished late on as The Hornets were left to rue spurned chances while their guests showed ruthlessness in front of goal.
Since Horsham returned to the Isthmian League last season, The Hornets have picked up a bit of an unwanted reputation for being unpredictable when it comes to results, and it proved to be their Achilles heel once more, as despite enjoying a ten point lead coming into the game, Horsham failed to take advantage of their league position as they failed to win against a side who’s league position suggested they would unlikely cause Dom Di Paola’s side too much trouble.
Given that Di Paola had expressed his frustration that his team had failed to see out a win away at lowly East Grinstead on Tuesday evening, his anger was palpable at full time as his side trudged off the pitch, having worked hard to drag themselves level only for Ramsgate to carve Horsham’s defence open at ease despite hardly threatening for much of the game.
Horsham got off to a lively start, with just four minutes on the clock as Alfie Rogers darted down the wing and played the ball towards Ryan Warrall inside the box, but despite trying to create space for himself, his shot was palmed away by Luke Watkins who, along with his defence, did a fine job in narrowing Warrall’s options.
The importance of Watkins’ save was realised six minutes later when Ramsgate took the lead with their first attempt on target. It was simple stuff for the visitors as they exposed Horsham defence who stood off and with Aaron Millbank unmarked at the edge of the box, he hammered the ball first time high into the net to put the Rams in front.
It took Horsham a further ten minutes to respond, but once again Watkins was on hand to deny Horsham, this time from Alfie Rogers who trapped the ball inside the box, and managed to turn and unleash a fierce shot, but ultimately it was too close to the visiting goalkeeper, who did well to drop down and stop the ball with his legs.
Horsham came at Ramsgate again, this time with Bailie Rogers timing his run to chase onto a through ball as he, and his brother Alfie got in behind the Ramsgate defence, but despite crossing low, Alfie’s first touch gave Watkins enough time to position himself well to block with his body.
The busy Watkins was having a fine afternoon, as a minute later, he followed up with another block to thwart George Landais with the Rams shot-stopper bravely standing up to prevent the former Lewes man from getting a shot away, with Metcalf colliding into his teammate as he attempted to force home the equaliser from the follow up.
Having lost Lewis Hyde to injury on Tuesday, the stricken Metcalf was then forced off to be replaced by Curtis Gaylor as Horsham’s injury concerns mount.
Horsham continued to create further chances as they searched for an equaliser, and when a pin perfect deep cross appeared to fall for an unmarked and waiting Alfie Rogers, Culver Road held it’s breath as he appeared set to score, yet his decision to cushion the ball down before striking gave Watkins just enough time to save once more when a first time volley would have surely done the job.
Alfie Rogers was later unlucky not to connect with a deep in-swinging cross from Gayler as half time approached as the ball eluded him at the far post as Ramsgate held onto their lead intact at the break.
H/T: Horsham 0 Ramsgate 1
Di Paola’s half time team talk would have invariably been to his squad to keep the pressure on and the equaliser would surely come, and it appeared his players headed that advice as they finally drew level nine minutes after the restart.
It took a run on the wing from Gayler who managed to beat his marker on the far side, where he broke into the box, and as he passed to Landais, the forward took advantage of some hesitation from the Ramsgate defence to sidestep his man and apply the finish as Horsham deservedly drew level.
But despite having worked so hard to restore parity, Horsham threw away the incentive to go on and win the game and instead found themselves with a huge mountain to climb as Ramsgate scored twice within as many minutes.
Having only attempted one shot in the game so far, Ramsgate cut Horsham apart as Alfie Paxman surged through the defence with a mazy dribble, after capitalising on a lazy pass from Gayler, and he set up Millbank, waiting to be fed and who opened up his boot to finish sweetly with the inside of his foot to restore Ramsgate’s lead.
It was a sickening blow to Horsham supporters, but the worst was yet to come as some more absent defending invited Ramsgate to help themselves to a third. Horsham’s high line was once again caught napping as Millbank latched onto a threaded through ball and the striker sealed his hat-trick bearing down on Pelling’s goal and firing low into the bottom corner to the delight of the travelling away supporters who had made the long journey from the far end of Kent.
With all appearing lost for Horsham, the home side – to their credit – refused to give up, and looked to drag themselves back into the contest once more, but a good ball to Landais took him away from goal, and with the angle reduced, his reverse pass to Alfie Rogers was fired wide as the teenage striker attempted to go for the near post.
If Alfie’s luck in front of goal was bad, brother Bailie’s was faring no better, as he burst into the box from the left hand side and fired at goal, but Watkins showed strong hands to deflect the ball out for a corner.
Horsham made a change with Alfie Rogers making way for top goalscorer Toby House and the move nearly paid dividends a minute after his introduction when he fired over the bar from close range after he met Landais’ fabulous long delivery into the box for him to run onto.
It simply was not falling for Horsham, who won a freekick out wide with eleven minutes remaining, but as Gayler whipped in a dangerous ball, only inches separated Joe Shelley’s head from converting as the ball whistled in front of him.
With another chance missed out on, Ramsgate once again showed Horsham where the back of the net was as they added a fourth goal in the eighty-fifth minute to add to Horsham’s wretched afternoon. A long ball over Horsham’s back line found Paxman who appeared offside, but despite Horsham’s defence looking for the flag, the linesman kept his arm by his side as Paxman was allowed free reign to beat Pelling in the one-on-one.
Reporter: Matt Dale