After failing to register a league win at all during September, in a month in which Horsham picked up just a single point, The Hornets commenced their October run of fixtures with a win and three points away at basement side Shoreham.
Despite the victory becoming only the third of Horsham’s league campaign, it was somewhat oddly Horsham’s first league double of the campaign due to the league’s fixture computer that pitted the two sides to play both the home and away ties within their first nine league matches.
For Horsham, the win will hopefully put to rest a slide in form that Dom Di Paola’s side will look to build upon as they aim to climb up the table in the coming weeks and months, although while this was in no way a straightforward evening against a side who had previously leaked twenty-seven goals ahead of the match, he and the Horsham supporters that were in attendance will come away from Middle Road with the thought that a win is indeed a win. And how Horsham needed such opposition, having scored just two goals in their last three league matches while conceding ten in the process.
With Shoreham having made several minor improvements to their Middle Road ground to bring it up to Bostik League standard, the two sides initially struggled to get the measure of each other in a largely uneventful opening fifteen minutes on the bobbly pitch, with tit-for-tat fouls being exchanged as the game struggled to find a spark.
Yet it was the visitors who were proving to be the more hard working of the two sides, as Horsham sought to bring the game to their hosts, and when a super ball out from defence released Darren Budd through the gap, his low cross in towards the box needed a strong clearance by Ryman Timms to avert the danger.
From the corner however, Horsham took the lead. With twenty minutes on the clock, Joe Shelley – in his first appearance since re-joining the club from Horsham YMCA – attempted to head towards goal, but the ball fell to Josh Street who recycled it out to Darren Boswell, and the winger’s quick thinking resulted in him floating a beautiful cross to an unmarked Lewis Hyde, who glanced his header from within the six-yard box neatly into the back of the net.
Three minutes after the restart, Hyde nearly turned provider, when his layoff to George Landais found the striker in plenty of space just inside the box, but he wasted a great chance shooting wide.
However, the attention would quickly shift onto referee Robert Ablett for the remainder of the half, when with just after half an hour played, he failed to award Horsham a blatant penalty. The lively Josh Street did well to regain possession high up the pitch, and went on a mazy run that saw him break into the box, and skip past two defenders, yet with the teenage full-back ready to pull the trigger, his leg was rather cynically swept from underneath him by Lee Denyer who clearly played the man and not the ball from behind. Despite Horsham’s players, and supporters behind the goal anticipating the referee’s whistle, there was amazement at his decision as he indicted for play to continue despite being in an excellent position to see the incident.
Horsham came at Shoreham again minutes later, when Darren Budd’s dangerous cross appeared to give home goalkeeper James Broadbent problems, with the Shoreham man relieved to see it clear the top of his crossbar.
Despite Mr Ablett’s failure to award Horsham a penalty moments before, the referee showed he was no stranger in pointing to the spot, for the home side at least, when with five minutes of the half remaining he awarded Shoreham a spot kick for an infringement. However there was to be a sense of justice served for watching Hornet’s supporters, quietly seething with the performance of the officials when Michael Hunter saved brilliantly from Dan Simmond’s penalty, diving to his left to parry Simmond’s powerful hit.
Hunter would come to his side’s rescue barely three minutes later when former Hornet Evan Archibald’s shot needed a glove to palm it onto the top of the bar as Horsham threatened to implode before half time, however they would go in at the break with a two-goal cushion instead.
As Horsham strode into Shoreham’s half in first half injury time, Steve Metcalf’s excellent cross was deep towards the far post, and in snuck George Landais to meet it as the ball dropped to his feet, turning it in from two yards out after he lurked in behind the Shoreham defence.
H/T: Shoreham 0 Horsham 2
Rather than build on their lead and punish their hosts, Horsham emerged for the second half yet appeared content to sit back and play out the final forty-five minutes rather than go for the jugular.
As the game turned into a more scrappy type of affair, few chances came to either side, with Street’s foray into Shoreham’s half as he withstood a rough challenge on the wing to cross only for Broadbent to pluck the ball out of the air as a half-hearted attack broke down
At the other end, Horsham almost invited Shoreham back into the contest, when Metcalf’s poor backpass allowed Simmonds in with a sniff at goal, yet the defender recovered well to shut the Musslemen striker out alongside Lewis Hyde.
Shoreham were offered a route back into the game when in the sixty-ninth minute, Robert Ablett awarded the hosts their second penalty of the evening when he correctly spotted Josh Street’s kick into the side of Jamie Craddock. This time though, Hunter could only stand still and watch as Simmonds second attempt to beat him from the spot was smashed with unstoppable force as he put his laces through the shot.
It made for a nervy final twenty minutes for Horsham, yet despite Shoreham’s huff and puff, the home side offered a very limited response as they went in search of an equaliser with Craddock’s freekick cleared away with four minutes left the only thing worthy of note.
Although Shoreham did have one final chance to snatch a point with two minutes remaining when substitute Mark Goldson went closest with a decent shot low down that Hunter had to be alert for to palm out, diving down low to his right-hand side, with Horsham happy to hook the ball anywhere as the clock ticked down as they secured the points.
Reporter: Matt Dale