“That’s what we should have done on Saturday!” was the verdict from a chipper Dom Di Paola after he saw his Hornets side get back to winning ways after a run of four games without a win, after they smashed Corinthian 5-0 in their FA Cup First Qualifying Round Replay at Culver Road.
Having conceded in injury time in Kent on the weekend after leading 1-0 for most of the match Di Paola laid down the law after the final whistle, and his team took notice as they responded with a resounding win that set up a tie at home against Heybridge Swifts, while ensuring the club pockets a welcomed £6000 in prize money for making it safely through the round.
For The Hornets, the win meant a first victory in five matches, with five different scorers all netting – the margin of victory also becoming the biggest win for the club since September last year when, once again in the FA Cup, Horsham put six past Ashford United in a 6-0 win at the same stage of the competition.
Horsham’s game plan almost got underway with the perfect start, but for the crossbar and an unfortunate bounce, when Chris Smith’s cracking effort from outside the box smashed the underside of the bar, and bounced down in front of the line as the former South Park hitman saw space open up in front of him to allow for the shot.
The same player then found himself denied by goalkeeper Aiden Prall, who made a decent save at his near post to prevent Smith converting after he turned and fired goalward on the volley.
With Horsham probing, the visitors sat deep as The Hornets continued to press, with a looping header sent over the bar by Rob O’ Toole after Corinthian’s defence failed to deal with his aerial prowess from a freekick sent over, but despite the pressure, Horsham were struggling to find the final ball to find the breakthrough.
Smith looked to find the net from distance with a decent effort from the edge of the box, but failed to get enough curve on the ball, instead firing into the palms of Prall who was in the right position to claim it, while Prall watched two minutes later as Charlie Harris’ thunderbolt flew wide.
Corinthian however did get out of their own half when a long ball was sent downfield for Connor Heffernan to chase down, but despite working his way cleverly into the box, and attempting to go it alone, Josh Pelling was quick to charge down the attempted shot, as his defence quickly recovered the situation.
Harding might have thought he was to find the net when he rose to nod a free header from Harris’ cross at goal, but Prall was equal to it, diving to his right to acrobatically tip the danger away. With Prall doing his utmost to ensure his side remained in the contest, a header from his own teammate Jamie Billings almost helped Horsham to another own goal, but Prall spared his blushes by claiming it.
Deservedly though, Horsham took the lead two minutes before the interval and with a certain amount of help from The Hoops once again. Lee Harding’s powerful shot from the edge of the area took a nick off defender Jack Healey, and despite Prall’s best efforts to get something on it, the ball ricocheted backwards off him and trickled into the net.
H/T: Horsham 1 Corinthian 0
Despite an initially sloppy start to the half, Horsham needed just ten minutes to double their lead. The goal coming after a succession of corners. With the first corner being swiped wide by O’Toole, the second chance was gleefully gobbled up as a deflection gave The Hornets another chance, and this time it was taken thanks to a towering header from a leaping Joe Shelley who rose head and shoulders above everyone else and superbly planted into the base of the net.
Horsham smelt blood, and were determined to kill the visitors off. Looking for a third goal, Smith raced beyond the defence and attempted to slide in at the far post, but Prall’s quick reactions drew a fine block as he raced to meet him, and another dangerous shot from Harris whizzed wide after the midfielder decided to take it on himself after Corinthian’s defence stepped off.
The Horsham attack was in free flow as the home side continued to dominate. Smith’s cross in-towards the box was slightly above the head for Harding who could only head upwards and over the bar, but a third goal inevitably arrived soon after.
With just over fifteen minutes remaining, Smith’s cute little flick into the path of O’Toole set the striker up with an easy finish, coolly slotting in to kill the visitors off as he danced a jig of delight in celebration.
Smith himself then got the goal he deserved three minutes later stroking in unmarked as he turned in Harding’s centre ball across the face of goal.
The victory assured, there was still time for another goal, as Jack Brivlo opened his account for the club less than a week after signing from Burgess Hill Town, the substitute nodding in from close range with his first touch of the game as he converted Joey Taylor’s whipped cross at the back post after Smith couldn’t quite reach.
Prall prevented a sixth goal with a fine one-handed stop on the line from Harding’s shot after Taylor’s pass fed him, while Horsham forward Tyrell Richardson-Brown was able to see the funny side late on when he was serenaded with an ironic chant of ‘Donkey Riding’ after he blasted a comical effort out of the ground.
The Hornets will now turn their attention to Bostik League points when we welcome Herne Bay to Culver Road on Saturday.
Reporter: Matt Dale
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Match photos by John Lines