Horsham’s longest away trip of the season against old rivals Ramsgate ended in despair, resulting in a second consecutive 1-0 defeat. The two sides had started the day with the same amount of points, only goal difference giving the Rams a one place advantage.
The Hornets showed one change from Tuesday’s starting line up with Michael Hunter in goal in place of the unavailable James Fernandes. Lewis Hyde had travelled down with the team but failed a pre-match fitness test, his bruised foot still causing him a problem.
Horsham started the game kicking up the slope and were awarded a fortunate free-kick in the fourth minute for handball, but Scott Kirkwood’s kick was easily cleared by the Rams defence, while at the other end the dangerous Tom Chapman failed to get his shot on target. Passages of play for both teams were being controlled by tight defending, with no clear-cut chances, and another long range effort from Chapman cleared Hunter’s goal by a distance.
The Rams’ prolific scorer Alfie Paxman thought he had opened the scoring in the twenty-fifth minute but his goalbound shot was turned onto the post by Hunter, the follow up was blocked and cleared to safety. The Hornets’ defence had been under heavy pressure prior to that but somehow managed to keep their goal intact. At the other end, Liam MacDevitt latched onto a long ball and made his way into the penalty area but found Rams keeper Luke Watkins too good, half saving his first effort then relying on his defence to block the second attempt.
Horsham were enjoying more of the possession now and Jack Hartley cut out a dangerous pass on halfway before sending a defence splitting pass into George Landais’ path but his weak shot was easily saved by Watkins, before another MacDevitt/Landais move was once again thwarted by the busy Watkins.
A Kirkwood corner was back headed by Joe Shelley to the far post but Landais couldn’t direct it on target. A rare Rams attack saw Charlie Farmer making a timely interception and his first time pass put Josh Street away towards goal but, cutting in from the wing, his first time shot was just too high. With half-time approaching there was just time for Shelley to make a vital clearance before Chapman’s long range shot was held by a relieved Hunter.
H/T Ramsgate 0 Horsham 0
The second half started similarly to the first with the home team applying early pressure. Rams captain Joseph Kane launched a long throw into the penalty area, the ball finally landing at the feet of Jake Munday whose shot went through a crowd of players but was well saved by Hunter. A free-kick for the Hornets was headed wide by Farmer.
Horsham brought on Darren Boswell for Hartley after fifty-four minutes in search of a goal, but this left more space for the elusive left-footed Paxman to probe the visitors’ backline. However, a long clearing header by Steve Metcalf almost put MacDevitt in on goal but Watkins, well out of his area, hacked clear to avert the danger.
The breakthrough came around the hour mark when another smart move from the home team saw Paxman run onto a good pass from the back. Just inside the Hornets’ half, he was allowed to run toward the penalty area where he unleashed a well hit shot with his trusty left foot that nestled inside Hunter’s left post to put the home side in front.
The Hornets, now having to push more men forward in an attempt to find an equaliser, were leaving themselves more exposed to the quick break with the home side, chancing their arm, leaving three up front. But Chapman missed a glorious chance to put the game to bed by shooting wildly over the bar when well placed.
Horsham put James Thurgar on in place of Street, hoping the youngster could get the breakthrough, however it was Boswell playing on the right wing who cut inside his marker and got a shot away but was just off target. The match was starting to swing from end-to-end and the next chance again fell to Chapman but his shot was saved by Hunter at the second attempt.
Thurgar managed to get past his marker but a covering block made sure his shot didn’t reach the danger area. Oliver Gray had to make a vital tackle with the home side under pressure, the ball going out for a throw. Time for the final substitution, with Alex Duncan coming off and Toby House coming on, and a great ball into the Rams box by Shelley was hit on the volley by Thurgar. It rebounded to the waiting House but instead of planting it past the ‘keeper, his shot flew high over the bar and a golden chance to level the scores had passed.
Still the Hornets pushed forward, with a rare Shelley effort set up by Boswell also clearing the bar. A mistimed tackle on House by Luke Wheatley added to the pressure on the home defenders, the free-kick into the area causing a misunderstanding between Watkins and his defenders before the ‘keeper finally hung onto the ball.
Another Ramsgate breakaway found Chapman, whose shot across the Hornets box missed the far post by a whisker.
With the board showing three minutes of added time Horsham’s last chance seemed to have come when Landais was upended in the area only to find referee Jamaal Horne waving away the loud appeals from the dug out. With time almost up, two final catches by Watkins made sure the Rams would take all three points.
Guernsey, who beat Carshalton, were the only other team apart from Ramsgate who were in the bottom nine to win today, the Rams jumping up four places to fifteenth while we remain in twentieth place.
Report by Jim Bravery
Match photos available here, courtesy of John Lines