Horsham YMCA caused a major FA Cup upset as they beat Ryman Premier League outfit Burgess Hill to reach the second qualifying round for the first time in six years.
Two divisions and forty-two non-league places separated the two sides at kick off, but it was Southern Combination Football League minnows YM, who ended the afternoon on top, securing £3,000 in FA prize money in the process.
Sam Schaaf handed the hosts an unlikely lead right on the stroke of half-time, before Dave Brown’s fifth goal in as many games doubled the underdogs’ advantage nine minutes after the restart.
Hillians substitute Dan Perry provided a nervous end to the tie when he fired home ten minutes from the finish, but Peter Buckland’s side held out for a home tie against Aveley.
The jubilant YM boss said: “What a Jekyll and Hyde team we are. We started what was approaching our strongest eleven today and our best shape, but the bigger and better footballing sides we play, we just seem to turn it on.
“I know it’s a cliché quoting history but after Whitehawk and Lewes down here (Sussex Senior Challenge Cup triumphs from two seasons ago), we’ve now beaten Burgess Hill. We’ve got some good footballers, we really have. We can dig in when we need to, we can pass the ball when we need to and go long when we need to.
“I don’t think that was a freak result. I think that we matched them all over the pitch. In the last quarter of an hour, as expected, they threw the kitchen sink at us and their superior fitness level kicked in. But all things considered, I think that we deserved the win. I can’t be very analytical at the moment. I am just so pleased, I really am.”
There was a subdued and somewhat fragmented start to the encounter, although YM made it clear that they weren’t going to be overwhelmed by their League superiors.
Against the run of play, the home side took the lead just before half-time as Scott Kirkwood was dispossessed and confusion in the defence allowed Schaaf to speed clear and coolly finish.
The visitors started brightly after the restart and looked dangerous going forwards, but the complexion changed after just nine minutes. A YM breakaway saw Schaaf cross to Brown, who fired home at the far post to make it 2-0.
A barrage of Hill pressure followed and Perry pulled a goal back with ten minutes left as long ball was only half cleared and the he found the far corner to half the deficit.
Buckland concluded: “I don’t think that it was a fortunate win. You see a different game sometimes stood in the dugout when you’re highly charged and emotive, but I think that we matched them pretty much all over the pitch.”
Horsham YMCA: Lockwood, Carden, Gathern, Crane (D.Sullivan 23), Evans, Dugdale, Gedling, D.Brown, Wright (J.Brown 75), Schaaf (Hunter 86), N.Sulliva. Unused subs: White, Horner.