Horsham returned to Hove again after the Christmas break for
this League fixture following our exit in the County Cup to
Hove Park Colts. With the teams lying 2nd and 3rd in the table
this was going to be a crucial result.
Horsham had a very early chance in the 3rd minute with a free
kick taken by Jack Reeves in a central position with a good
strike but just high, skimming the crossbar. Finn Bigg followed
this shortly after with a lofted effort but again just high
and wide. Hove bounced back with a volleyed effort and both
teams were looking dangerous up front.
Horsham opened the scoring through George Matthews playing on
the left after a great long throw in from Bigg picked him out
at the far post for a tap in which gave the lads some confidence.
A competitive period followed with a battle for midfield domination
and some strong, positive defending from both teams being necessary.
Each team had to make changes with injuries and Horsham captain
Lewis Reeves had to come off after 13 minutes with a toe injury
from a heavy challenge but he was able to return to the field
later in the game.
Hove came close after 23 minutes with the ball bouncing perfectly
at the feet of their striker for the volley but luckily for
Horsham his shot was blazed over the bar. Hove pushed for the
equaliser gaining a free kick just outside the area. The Horsham
wall assembled and, with a last minute shout from the manager,
Louis Lewis dropped back to the post to meet the curled free
kick with his head to prevent the goal. However, from the resulting
corner Hove scored with an excellent headed goal at the front
post to bring the match all square after half an hour. Hove
then scored again 2 minutes later with a high hopeful ball right
into the Horsham goal mouth which was bundled in to take them
into the break 2-1 to the good.
H/T Hove Park Colts 2 Horsham 1
Horsham began the second half moving the ball around nicely
through the field with one such move giving Ali Kerr the chance
for a driving run through midfield then out to Harry Batchelor
and winning a throw in near the corner flag. Batchelor had his
shot saved from the resulting throw in but this was typical
of the lads’ intent to get the ball moving and bring this match
back to all square. However, Hove competed at all times and
tested Horsham ‘keeper Joe Moss with a stinging driven shot
after their striker had cut through Horsham’s central defence.
The shot was too hot to handle but Moss did enough to get himself
in the way and parry the ball over. Moss showed a safe pair
of hands in this half with confident catches as Hove made several
long range efforts to keep him on his toes.
Further formation changes were made by both teams, forced by
injuries, in this competitive game with the top spot in the
League a possibility. However, both teams were still creating
chances and Hugo Cowan came close from a volley which was flicked
on but saved by the Hove ‘keeper at the foot of his post. Hove
came back but again Moss collected safely and released Eddie
Simpkin down the left from a throw out and he ran, fending off
challenges, to pick out Liam Clarke who squared from the by-line
but there was no-one coming in to finish. Clarke showed his
pace and determination again with another run leaving two defenders
in his wake and cutting inside from the left but his shot was
pushed over the bar for a corner. Bigg swung in the corner and
Clarke met it at the far post with his head for Horsham’s well
deserved equaliser with only six minutes remaining.
Horsham pressed on for the winner and came close from a great
free kick by Bigg and a flicked on header from Lewis but the
Hove ‘keeper made an excellent save and followed this twice
more before the final whistle to keep Horsham out and the game
finished 2-2 which was probably a fair result and both teams
were happy with their point.