The art of defending is a term that doesn’t get used as much these days in football, as often the plaudits go to attacking players with flair and goalscoring ability, but both Horsham, and their opponents South Park will be pleased with the way each side cancelled the other as they settled for a point at Culver Road, with neither side able to find the net.
0-0 draws are something of a rarity these days for Horsham, with this the first goalless stalemate since Guernsey at Gorings Mead last season back in January, but it was a result that Dom Di Paola admitted afterwards was fair on both sides, with Charlie Farmer and Joe Shelley in fine form as they marshalled the Hornets rear-guard brilliantly throughout.
It was probably the result neither side expected coming into the match, with the visitors coming into the fixture having conceded seventeen goals in their last four matches, while The Hornets continue to show signs of improvement across the pitch since losing 0-8 at Cray Wanderers three weeks ago. Horsham have now picked up five points from their last three league outings, whilst also securing only their second clean-sheet in the league since beating Shoreham back in August.
With both sides keeping it tight from the off, there were few chances of note during the opening exchanges with only a wild shot skied high by Darren Boswell in the seventh minute enough to take note, whilst Josh Gallagher missed with an equally abysmal effort at the other end with fourteen minutes played.
A first proper chance came a minute later however for the home side when George Landais spotted Dean Bown in a good position just outside the box, with his back towards goal, Bown turned and burst into the box, but under pressure from his marker, curled his effort narrowly wide.
Sparks goalkeeper Callum Thomas then needed to be alert to prevent himself being embarrassed when he saved smartly from Hakeem Adelakun’s ambitious try from forty yards, but arguably the best chance of the half came the way of the visitors just after half an hour. A long ball over the top exposed Horsham’s defence as Kieran Lavery ghosted through, and after he skilfully brought the ball down with his foot, he found himself one-on-one with debutant ‘keeper Brannon Daly. However with the entire goal available, he went for Daly’s nearside, but struck the foot off the post, with the ball falling into the arms of the relieved Hornets shot-stopper.
Horsham responded minutes later with a close effort of their own, as Scott Kirkwood floated over a free-kick that was met with a glancing header by Charlie Farmer, rising unchallenged in the box to head just wide.
H/T: Horsham 0 South Park 0
With neither side looking likely to score from open play, there was hope that referee Mr. Daniel Austin would award Horsham a penalty eight minutes into the second half as Josh Hartley’s appeared to be body-checked by Simmonds Merchant as he ran into the player while pursuing a loose ball, but the official was quick – and correct – to wave away the protests,
Daly’s first real test in the Horsham goal would follow three minutes after, when he held a powerful shot smacked from outside the area by Dean Lovegrove, but still the chances for both sides remained limited.
Having turned down a spot-kick appeal previously, Mr. Austin was again required to make a judgement call on another Horsham penalty shout, this time after substitute Toby House was sent to chase a through ball and he worked his way into the penalty area. Despite the young striker’s angle on goal rapidly diminishing, a nudge from Adam Pullin sent him tumbling to the ground, but once again the referee indicated for play to continue, with Assistant Manager Adam Westwood’s bellow of “that’s two now!” leaving him in no doubt of what he thought about the decision.
The final quarter of an hour saw visiting custodian Thomas the more busy of the two goalkeepers, as Horsham upped the tempo in the final stages looking for a late winner, and he came to his side’s rescue to push out a dipping shot from Farmer after the defender had been found in space by Landais.
The hosts were unlucky not to sneak victory in the closing stages however, when House’s dangerous looking cross clipped the top of the crossbar as Thomas struggled to cover in goal, and with the ball coming straight back out to Landais, the on-loan striker smashed towards goal, only for a super block off the line from the heel of Merchant as Horsham applied some late pressure.
Joe Shelley then spurned a great chance to steal the points, when a trademark towering header met Landais’ corner, only for him to put it just wide.
A poor challenge on House by Jake Gill then sparked a needless coming together between both sets of players as frustration boiled over, but despite the five minutes of added on time, it made little difference as both sides were left to settle for a point apiece.
Reporter: Matt Dale
Images: Steve Brown
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