Walton Casuals ensured it would be they who now face Dulwich Hamlett in the Third Round of the Velocity Trophy, after they beat Horsham 3-0 at Elmbridge Sports Hub to set up a date at Champion Hill later in December.
In just four months, this was the third visit for Horsham supporters to Walton Casuals’ new multi-million complex since August, with the tie ordered to be replayed by the league following a player registration discrepancy, rendering Horsham’s previous 1-3 win null and void.
In the previous game, a clerical error regarding George Landais’ registration had meant that the on-loan Lewes man was ineligible to play, and thus the league instructed the match to be replayed. And how Walton punished Dom Di Poala’s side, taking their second chance with both hands as they brought the Hornets down to Earth with a bump, following our excellent 0-2 win away at Greenwich Borough on the Saturday beforehand.
Horsham’s form has been difficult to predict in recent weeks and months, but while a large chunk of Di Paola’s squad was missing from Tuesday night’s game in Surrey, the manager will be unable to use player unavailability as an excuse for another disappointing performance, highlighting once again their inconsistency following their fine result in Kent on the weekend, with both teams able to only name three available players on the bench for the game. With the game poised delicately at 0-0 at the break, and with few chances on offer, the game lacked the spark and intensity of the previous – now irrelevant – contest on Halloween, but Horsham will be disappointed at the way they unravelled during the second half when Liam MacDevitt’s dreadful backpass caught Michael Hunter out and was capitalised upon by Sean McCormack, before Daryl Coleman rifled in four minutes later to effectively end the contest, with Isaac Sarpong adding the gloss thirteen minutes from the end.
It was the hosts who enjoyed the first real chance of the match on just seven minutes, when Coleman found himself slipped in behind the defence, but as he tried to beat Michael Hunter at his near post, his shot was placed too close to the Horsham shot-stopper who did well to block with his feet.
Four minutes later Casuals found success down the wing as they broke forward, but with the ball pulled back for Coleman, the midfielder once again failed to take his chance, hitting a less than clean shot that allowed Horsham time to clear off the line.
At the other end Horsham looked to make the breakthrough via Liam MacDevitt only for him to skiy well over, but Casuals continued to ask the bigger questions of Horsham’s defence, when with a minute before the half hour mark, Joe Hicks drove forward with Horsham’s rear-guard unable to shake him off the ball, however as the Stags defender made his way into the Horsham box, Alex Duncan done enough to stick with him and force him to take the ball out of play.
With Casuals clearly getting on top, some further good play from the hosts out from the back allowed a long diagonal pass from Hicks to find his teammate on the wing, and with the ball quickly passed onwards to Isaak Sarpong, the striker’s shot off the inside of his boot was cleared away as Horsham dealt with the danger.
Arguably, the best chance of the half came to Horsham, despite having not really got going. Some quick feet from Darren Boswell allowed the pacy midfielder to escape the attentions of his marker, and cross low into the box where he found Dean Bown, who nearly got the ball stuck under his feet, but his left footed shot was snatched at, and hit straight at Denzel Gerrar.
Charlie Farmer then sent a glancing header wide from a whipped ball as half time arrived with nothing to separate either side.
H/T: Walton Casuals 0 Horsham 0
Ten minutes after the game resumes, a shocking error in the Casuals defence presented Bown with a fantastic opportunity to put the visitors in front, yet with ground still to cover, the forward panicked and blasted woefully wide as Casuals were offered a huge reprieve. A minute later, Horsham were soundly punished for a mistake of their own making. With Liam MacDevitt having been pushed into right-back, following Lewis Hyde’s earlier withdrawal, the makeshift full-back’s unfamiliarity of his temporary position became all too apparent, when his poor back-pass caught Hunter out, and with the goalkeeper unable to control the ball, in swooped Sean McCormack for one of the easiest finishes he’ll enjoy all season as he put the hosts in front.
Four minutes later, and The Stags doubled their lead. Alfie Taylor’s promising run near to the touchline saw the ball delivered back into the centre of the pitch, and from twenty-five yards out, Daryl Coleman’s excellent strike rocketed beyond Hunter and into the net.
The fight immediately gone from Horsham, the Hornets were fortunate not to fall further behind from yet another defensive error, this time as Charlie Farmer’s poor pass across the back was intercepted by McCormack high up the pitch. The midfielder seemed destined to score as he bore down on goal, yet rather than pick his spot with a cool finish, he went for power and instead blasted embarrassingly over.
However, McCormark atoned for his earlier glaring miss by turning architect to set up Casuals’ third and final goal of the evening. Once again collecting a ball high up the pitch, and with Horsham’s defence woefully exposed, the powerful midfielder chose to run at the heart of Horsham’s defence, yet found himself pushed wide of goal after bursting into the box. However, his reluctance to be dispossessed saw him manage to deliver a cross towards Isaac Sarpong, who’s initial header was clawed upwards by Hunter, however Sarpong would ensure he wouldn’t be denied his goal, making sure he was first to the rebound by prodding him from two yards out.
Horsham will now turn their attentions to cup glory in the Sussex Senior Cup, while aiming to climb the Bostik League.
Reporter: Matt Dale