Horsham returned home with a vital point after last night’s 1-1 draw in deepest, darkest Kent. For the South coast-based players it meant a two hundred mile round trip, but those who made the trip gave their all in a fairly even contest.
For whatever reason the game started seven minutes late but, once underway, it didn’t take the home side long to test out their shooting boots. With less than a minute on the clock, Danny Leonard’s shot took a deflection for a corner from which Joshua Wisson rose the highest but his header was off target. The Hornets were seeing plenty of the ball, and several excursions into the final third saw shots just off target or being blocked. A great through ball sent Jake Embery clear of the defence but a timely interception, at the cost of a corner, by Steve Metcalf kept our goal intact. Jack Hartley had a shot blocked and, from the rebound, Scott Kirkwood shot narrowly wide then Jack Hartley conceded a free kick in the final third but fortunately the linesman spotted a Bay attacker in an offside position. The home side were using both flanks to build attacks, nearly all the crosses into the penalty area challenged the defence but somehow it remained solid.
Hartley almost found the lurking Dean Bown in the area with a probing cross and next it was Kirkwood shooting straight at Benjamin Hunter . The home side went close when a shot on target came out off the legs of Brannon Daly with the home fans thinking they had scored. When Metcalf was upended as he cut in from the left wing, the hosts’ Thomas Carlton received the first caution of the match for disputing the award of the free-kick. Hartley took the set-piece but found a defender in the way, the rebound fell at Kirkwood’s feet and he hit a bullet shot from outside the area that took a slight deflection, crashing off the top of the crossbar for a corner. Carlton also argued with the referee over this decision and was a bit lucky not to have been shown a second yellow.
Hakeem Adelakun tried his luck from distance but his shot lacked power and was easily held by the home ‘keeper. With half-time rapidly approaching, both sides had half chances; Bradley Shafer and Nassim Dukali put in a couple of excellent crosses that were well defended and Dukali had a shot saved when put through by Leonard. The Hornets had two corners, Lewis Hyde getting a touch on one but wide of the post, and Embery brought the half to a close with a shot that went wide from a good position.
H/T Herne Bay 0 Horsham 0
With no changes to the teams the second half got underway and, similar to the first, it was end to end. The Hornets skipper had another shot blocked before Junior Aikhionbare had his effort saved by Daly. After only five minutes of the second period, Hyde was injured making a tackle and limped off clutching his hamstring, to be replaced by Scott Harris who went into midfield with Joe Shelley slotting into the centre of defence. The visitors continued to take the game to their opponents and had a golden spell where Hunter was kept busy; a left footed effort from Bown was punched clear and Kirkwood’s goal bound shot was palmed away for a corner.
Shelley rose highest to head past the keeper only to be disallowed by the referee for climbing on the defender. Brown tried a shot from distance that skimmed Daly’s bar and, before the goal kick could be taken, the home side made their first change by bringing on Ryan Catmull in place of Aikhionbare. Next it was Darren Boswell testing Hunter after being put through by Bown, and this was to be Bown’s last touch as he was replaced by Tony Nwachukwu. The substitute was quickly in on the action, holding the ball up well before laying off to Metcalf who finished from a tight angle to give the Hornets the lead.
Bay took off Brown for Danny Rumbol and the fresh blood seemed to re-energise the home side. Catmull had a header saved and Wissun had a long range effort that was too high. Herne Bay eventually scored an equaliser when Schafer collected Daly’s poorly directed kick from an unnecessary back pass, Nwachukwu passing the ball back to the ‘keeper from just inside Herne Bays half, and Schafer moved forward and let fly from some way out to beat Daly’s right hand amid cheers from the noisy home supporters. With eighteen minutes to go Darren Boswell was replaced by Toby House. There were still chances for both sides but the home side were looking dangerous every time they attacked, and a mixture of solid keeping and vital tackles from Alex Duncan saw Horsham through to the final whistle. The 1-1 scoreline was a pretty fair reflection over the ninety minutes as both sides gave their all in a very competitive match.
Report by Jim Bravery