Horsham fell to a third consecutive defeat in their penultimate game of the season at the hands of VCD Athletic as the Hornets season continues to end with a whimper.
Horsham are at least guaranteed to improve upon their final position of sixteenth last season, but it will be only one place higher when the curtain falls next weekend as the team currently occupying sixteenth beat Dom Di Paola’s fifteenth placed side by two goals to one in a contest that suggested both teams were firmly counting down the days until the season ends.
Much of Horsham’s frustrations this season have stemmed from their inability to prevent their opponents from scoring early on in matches, while the manner in which they have conceded soft goals at times will surely need to be a priority for Di Paola to address next season. Once again, that issue was apparent for all to see on just nine minutes, and with VCD’s first attempt on target. Despite appearing to have Aymun El-Moyhalbel contained as he strode toward’s Horsham’s penalty area, Joe Shelley’s challenge saw him fail to emerge fully with the ball, and instead, it broke kindly to Jeffery Gyamfi in space, who stroked the ball in low as Horsham’s backline froze up.
Things could have got worse for Horsham five minutes later when Charlie Farmer gave away possession to Alfie Cue who had the opportunity to run at goal, but a crucial interception by Shelley unloaded the Vickers hitman, while Farmer managed to get back quick to help recover the situation as Josh Pelling smothered the danger.
With The Hornets getting bogged down in midfield, service to Horsham’s front line was proving limited, but the away side got a sniff on goal with just over half an hour played when George Landais delivered a freekick from out wide on the wing that was glanced wide and over by Dean Bown from the edge of the area as Horsham looked to find a route back in.
Chances for both teams however were at a premium, but Pelling almost gave his side a scare with five minutes to the interval when he managed to spill a deep cross into his box, but the reactions of Gymafi were too slow as was unable to compose himself and poked wide.
H/T: VCD Athletic 1 Horsham 0
Di Paola exchanged Bailie Rogers for Darren Boswell at the break as he tried to inject some pace into his squad, yet within ten minutes of the restart, Horsham found themselves further behind due to sloppy play at the back. A long ball downfield was flicked on to fool Horsham by El-Moyhalbel putting Cue in a great shooting position, but despite not getting the cleanest of strikes, he did enough to find the back of the net to put The Vickers in control.
Things then threatened to boil over two minutes later when Daniel Smith reacted angrily to a challenge by Fintan Walsh that saw players from both sides pile in with referee Mr. Isaac Searle having to issue three yellow cards to calm things down.
With handbags set aside, Horsham went close to reducing the arrears through Dean Bown who got in behind the VCD defence, but his decent low effort flashed across the face of goal and went out wide for a goal kick.
At the other end, the hosts looked to kill the game off when Cue narrowly saw his flicked on header clear the crossbar while an imposing run down the wing by Rashid Kamara allowed the pacy midfielder in towards the byline where he cut inside and looked for a teammate inside the box, but Horsham intercepted and cleared.
Yet with fourteen minutes remaining, Horsham pulled a goal back. Shelley’s initial header towards goal took a deflection out for a corner, and there was no messing around for the big centre back the second time around, as the 2016 Player of the Season timed his run superbly and powered in a fantastic bullet header to half the deficit.
Despite the goal though, there was to be no comeback as VCD managed to see out the match including an additional five minutes of injurty time with neither side creating any further chances.
Horsham’s final game of the season concludes next weekend at Culver Road against Whyteleafe.
Reporter: Matt Dale