Horsham secured their passage to the fourth round of the Sussex Senior Cup at the expense of Littlehampton Town at Culver Road with help from a brace from Toby House, and goals from Josh Street and Dean Bown.
Despite being crowned Champions at the end of the 2014/15 season, The Marigolds entered this game rooted to the foot of the Southern Combination Premier Division, and quickly found themselves 2-0 down after fifteen minutes to the 2015/16 winners. However, Town managed to pull a goal back midway through the first half and offered a spirited resistance, before House restored Horsham’s two goal cushion as Horsham cruised to victory.
Barely a minute had gone when The Hornets almost thought they had earned themselves a penalty, as Liam MacDevitt went on a trademark run, before being upended, however with referee Adrian Harris correctly adjudging the foul had taken place outside the box, Scott Kirkwood’s resulting freekick was smashed straight into the wall.
It took Horsham only six minutes to break the deadlock as Joe Shelley began a move finding space with a delightful pass forward to allow Horsham into Littlehampton’s box, and as the ball was moved into the box, Josh Street had time and space to smash into the net to open his account with the Hornets.
Littlehampton were desperately unlucky not to restore parity a minute later when they attacked immediately after getting the game restarted, as they sliced Horsham apart, culminating with Lee Garnham hitting the underside of the bar with Horsham switching off.
Another foul on MacDevitt offered Horsham another chance to increase their lead, this time on the left-hand side edge of the box, but Steve Metcalf’s curling effort failed to trouble goalkeeper Luke Hutchings as it went past the post.
Having conceded seven goals to Loxwood last month, Littlehampton then demonstrated their struggles in defence in the fifteenth minute when some shocking defending by the visitors handed Horsham the inititive as Dom Di Paola’s side took a 2-0 lead. Having conceded a corner, several blue shirts went in for the ball, yet no one appeared committed enough to clear the danger and with Toby House initially missing his first effort, he was allowed to get to the rebound and convert at the second time of asking.
With Littlehampton ready to implode, Horsham then nearly found themselves three goals up, as House attempted to turn provided with a low cross into the box that caused panic and was nearly turned in by the guests, before Town cleared.
However, despite The Hornets’ comfortable lead, a Littlehampton were handed a lifeline when Lucas Pattenden spotted the Horsham defence napping, nipping in to steal the ball and halving the deficit for his side.
Horsham looked to hit back and restore their two-goal lead, as a clever pass released House, who beat the offside trap, and after cutting inside and looking to deliver the killer pass towards Matt Axel making his way into the box, the former Worthing man failed to apply the finish under pressure.
The goal for Littlehampton appeared to hit Horsham as their swagger evaporated before halftime, but a mazy dribble by Street, who evaded a clipped challenge, resulted in a rising shot that cleared the bar after he burst forward into the final third of the pitch.
H/T: Horsham 2 Littlehampton Town 1
With the game delicately poised, the old cliché of “next goal is vital” could be heard amongst supporters in the bar, and it nearly came to Metcalf, who saw his stinging shot from long range acrobatically tipped over the bar by Hutchings after the full-back had been teed up by Scott Kirkwood.
With Horsham once more enjoying the lion’s share of possession, the killer final ball was what continued to elude them as they went about increasing their lead, with Charlie Farmer throwing himself at a cross that he couldn’t reach, while Shelley’s layoff to House saw a crucial interception by Jake Chaplin who did well to deflect the ball out for a corner.
House once again nearly had the opportunity to cushion Horsham’s lead when a fabulous deep cross from Kirkwood fell perfectly for the young striker who ghosted in behind his marker, but his decision to take it first time failed to pay off as he made a poor connection, allowing Hutchings to make a routine stop.
House’s persistence paid off though, and he was rewarded for his endeavours with a second goal on seventy-three minutes. The youngster showing he has an eye for the poachers goal, as he rushed to tap in MacDevitt’s delicate low cross.
The visiting goalkeeper would find himself substituted several minutes later after picking up an injury that rendered him unable to continue, yet his replacement Mitchell Bromage would end up picking the ball out of his net just three minutes after coming on.
And it was another substitute who did the damage, as Dean Bown – himself only on the pitch for four minutes – did superbly to shift his feet quickly to convert the lively House’s square ball.
Bown threatened to make the score even more one-sided late on as he went on a great run to stretch The Marigolds’ defence, skipping beyond Ross McKay before firing wide, yet Littlehampton added a late goal to add an air of respectability to the scoreline, when Harry Heath scored, arguably the best goal of the match, when he danced his way past Charlie Farmer, before nonchalantly slotting the ball through the legs of Brannon Daly in what proved to be the final kick of the game.
Reporter: Matt Dale