Horsham got their season up and running with a win against Bostik League newbies Shoreham as life at Culver Road begin with three points for Dom Di Paola’s side.
The result was the ideal response to the opening day 2-1 defeat at Molesey and demonstrated that Di Paola’s squad appears to have more strength in depth at the early stages of the season as Di Paola made four changes to the team that tasted defeat in Surrey, with a truly sensational goal to cap the performance from Darren Boswell.
Despite being given a harsh lesson in their first game at this level against South Park on Saturday, falling to a 4-0 defeat, The Musselmen had the first chance of the game in just the third minute, when former Horsham forward Evan Archibald chased a through ball and tested Michael Hunter from the angle, but his effort was poor and allowed the Horsham shot-stopper to save low down.
Immediately afterwards at the other end, a flashed shot at goal by former Shoreham striker Rob O’Toole forced a comfortable low save to the right of James Broadbent’s goal, and seven minutes later, Broadbent collected the ball for a goal kick, when O’Toole was unable to direct his header goalwards, after some good persistence by Asa Nicholson saw the forward get a cross into the box.
Ross Myers fashioned a chance from nothing when his dipping shot on the half volley fizzed narrowly wide, but it was the hosts who went closest to opening the scoring, when O’Toole’s close range header from a dangerous inswinging corner was saved point blank by Broadbent on his line, while Scott Kirkwood followed up seconds later with a low drive that flew just wide.
It was however the eagled eyed vision of referee Steven Hughes who handed Horsham the chance to break the deadlock, with most of the 225-strong midweek crowd focusing on a stricken Alex Duncan as play continued around him, Mr. Hughes spotted Toby House being clattered off the ball by Ryan Woodford, as the ex-Horsham man needlessly conceded a penalty for his former employers to take advantage of. Scott Kirkwood duly, and calmly slotting towards the left side of the net.
Forced into a double change due to the injury to Duncan, and to Nicholson, Di Paola brought on Charlie Farmer and Darren Boswell to the fray, but the game continued with Horsham asking the more probing questions of the visitors, and with four minutes remaining of the half, The Hornets should have doubled their lead. A great ball from O’Toole found Kirkwood, clean onside and in plenty of space with just Broadbent to beat, yet having found the net from the penalty spot minutes earlier, he powered his shot directly towards The Musslemen’s goalkeeper, who parried and cleared.
H/T: Horsham 1 Shoreham 0
The second half continued in a similar vein, as Horsham looked for a second goal to offer them breathing space, with O’Toole continuing to look to open his account as he rifled an effort over the bar early on, while a charging run forward from Adam Hunt allowed him to bring the ball into the opposing third, and as the ball came to O’Toole, he cleverly looked to switch play with a pass that invited Darren Budd to hit a ferocious shot that he put wide.
A second goal was somehow inevitable, and Horsham found it on the hour mark as the ball was splayed out wide to O’Toole, and with Toby House making himself available inside the box, O’Toole delivered it to him on a plate as House swept in from six yards.
The best was yet to come though, as Horsham wrapped up the points thirteen minutes later. As Horsham once again went forward, a cross towards the box was headed clear, but only to Darren Boswell some thirty yards out, and with only one thing on his mind, he unleashed an early contender for goal of the season, with a sublime strike that was practically in the back of the net as soon as the ball had left his boot.
O’Toole again failed to see an industrious display rewarded with a goal himself, when he flicked James Thurgar’s drilled in low cross towards goal only to see it deflected out for a corner as The Hornets searched for a fourth.
Despite impending defeat for the visitors, they continued to keep going, and could have had a consolation five minutes from the end, as Scott Packer chased down a good ball through as he got behind the Horsham rear-guard, but despite playing a decent ball into Daniel Simmonds, and after being allowed plenty of time on the ball, he fired a weak effort wide as The Hornets saw out the game with a clean sheet.
Reporter: Matt Dale
Match photos can be seen here, courtesy of John Lines
Match sponsored by: Merc247