Manager Dom Di Paola will need to try a little bit harder next season when he organises Horsham’s pre-season friendlies, if not for the sake of his players, but for the loyal supporters of the club.
When the pre-season fixtures were announced at the start of the summer, the key game that caught the eye of everyone was a visit to AFC Newquay and with that, a round trip of over 500 miles. It did little to deter supporters, who accepted the challenge to visit the Cornish coast in good numbers, and in high spirits as the famous Lardy Boys introduced themselves to the town as they made a weekend of the occasion, with some flying in, some driving, while they booked up hotels and even camped out in the wild en-route.
The home side, dubbed The Peppermints, enjoy life in the South West Peninsular League, but they would have probably regretted extending their invitation to Horsham early on as Horsham blew them away within the first half, racing into a 6-0 lead, while Hornets supporters with a taste of the macabre sung “can we play you every week?”.
While cruel on the hosts, it was perhaps understandable as the difference in class became rather apparent early on with Horsham opening the scoring in the second minute as Will Hoare flicked in from Lee Harding’s square ball. Horsham promptly added a second from the penalty spot minutes later after Taylor was adjudged to have been manhandled in the box, with George Landais coolly placing towards the right of the Peppermints’ goalkeeper.
The young shot-stopper would quickly have an afternoon to forget, with his defence failing to deal with Horsham’s attack, but he should have done better to prevent the next two goals, first failing to dive for Rob O’Toole’s downward header that bounced up off the ground and in off the post, and then as Landais capitalised on a poor clearance, by stroking in a scuffed shot that managed to squirm into the net as the hapless ‘keeper failed to get a strong hand on.
The one-way traffic continued, as O’Toole scored his second of the match with an easy tap in from two yards out and broke into a jig of delight with the singing Hornets fans behind the goal.
Lee Harding almost made it six when another defensive mistake gave him a clear sight of goal, yet a super block from the Newquay goalie went some way for him to make amends.
Yet there was little he could do to prevent an inevitable sixth Hornets goal, and it came on the stroke of half time. Landais struck the crossbar from just outside the box with a curling free-kick, and as the ball fell to Nwachuckwu, the midfielder held it up beautifully to tee up Harding.
Such was Horsham’s dominance, Horsham’s supporters contemplated if the second half would offer up more goals, but as supporter John Dalby finally arrived at the ground as the players resumed, their was somewhat an air of inevitability that no one would see any further goals as the game turned into a practice match.
Newquay were unlucky not to score a consolation however with the game entering it’s final ten minutes, a mistake at the back from Charlie Farmer allowed the Mints’ number nine in and through on goal, yet he agonisingly saw his curled effort swing past the Horsham goalkeeper and cannon off the upright.
Horsham conclude their pre-season schedule with a trip to Hassocks on Tuesday evening, and round off their preparations next weekend with a visit to Tooting and Mitcham.
Match Reporter: Matt Dale