They’ve done it - Horsham have been crowned champions of the Southern Combination League and clinched promotion.
Dominic Di Paola’s side secured the point they needed at home to Hailsham Town this afternoon to confirm their crown as victors of the Premier Division.
They did it in style with an emphatic 11-1 victory over a side they comfortably beat in the away match just four days previously, which put the champagne on ice.
It set off the all-but confirmed celebrations at Gorings Mead after Tuesday’s win meant Eastbourne Town would have needed an almighty swing to clinch the crown.
As well as the title, it sees the Hornets secure an immediate return to the Ryman League after last year’s relegation after a dismal season.
It’s been a season to savour under Di Paola and his new-look side, who have given the Horsham faithful something to cheer at long last.
The home side threatened from the outset as Kieron Pamment’s run and cross for Evan Archibald was cleared off the line by Harry Butler, while Dodd had one chalked off for offside.
The striker made no mistake on ten minutes however as he notched his 30th goal of the season on the angle, becoming the first player to score that amount in a season since the late Mick Browning in 1962.
Two minutes later it was two as Pamment skipped through the middle and dispatched high into the net, less than 60 seconds later it was 3-0.
Archibald put away Pamment, who was giving left-back Craig McFarlane a torrid time, and although Sheldon Levett was down well to save his shot, Joe Shelley tapped into an empty net.
The home side spurned numerous chances to extend their lead, before Darren Boswell got on the end of of a defender’s attempted tackle and flicked over Levett.
A lovely pirouette from Boswell then saw him beat his man in the middle of the park and his effort from range as saved, but Pamment tapped home the fifth.
On the stroke of half-time, Hailsham were reduced to ten men as McFarlane tripped Dodd on the edge of the box as last man.
Dodd then won a penalty as he was tripped when twisting and turning in the box and Alex Duncan converted from the spot for his first goal of the season.
Dodd added his second and Horsham’s seventh three minutes into the second half after good work by Archibald on the left and he tapped turned and finished after Levett had saved.
Boswell made it 8-0 on 55 minutes as Pamment’s run and cross was flicked goalwards by Archibald and Boswell smashed home from close range. Dodd then completed his hat-trick as he skipped around the last defender and finished with aplomb.
Pamment notched his third of the afternoon on 68 minutes to reach double figures as he slide home Archibald’s cross-shot.
With 14 minutes left, Hailsham netted a consolation as an ambitious effort by Adam Daubeney caught out James Shaw, who had hardly touched the ball all afternoon, and found the back of the net, ending Horsham’s run of seven clean sheets.
Archibald finally got on the scoresheet on 83 m inutes as he managed to convert from close range after a Levett hand denied Brad Lewis, to wrap up a landmark day in the club’s history.
Horsham: Shaw, Duncan (Chadwick 56), Jones (Atkinson 56), Farmer, Knee (Storrie 45), Boswell, Shelley, Lewis, Pamment, Archibald, Dodd. Unused subs: Hunt.
Hailsham: Levett, Butler, Daubeney, Duvall, McFarlane,Sotoyinbo, Jarvis, Okunja, S.Townsend, C.Townsend (Smart 69), Davis.
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