Horsham have strengthened their ranks by adding Ryman League stalwarts Arron Hopkinson and Nathan Crabb to help battle through their injury crisis.
It’s been the worst week of the season for the Hornets as their unbeaten league run ended on Saturday and they were dumped out of the RUR Cup on Tuesday night.
They were missing a total of 10 players over the course of the two games as they were beaten by fellow title chasers Eastbourne Town in the league and division-lower Haywards Heath in the cup.
This was not helped by the fact Scott Murfin has opted to return to Pagham due to other commitments and others playing through injury.
Attacking midfielders Crabb and dual-signed Hopkinson, who have played at Hastings, Bognor, Lewes and Eastbourne between them, look to be welcome additions.
Horsham boss Dominic Di Paola is unsure of their long-term availability and is also keen not to bring in too many players to avoid selection problems when people start returning to fitness, despite having to name a thread-bare bench for their last six games.
He said: “Arron was at Kingstonian and just wanted to play more football. Nathan has left Lewes but how long he will be around for I do not know.
“Arron was in and out of the side and Nathan cannot commit to the travel with Lewes as he is working in London.
“They came on on Tuesday night and both did alright, which must of been hard as they did not know anyone.
“They are both really good players, but like I have said, we were only looking to add someone if they were really worth signing. I do not really want a headache when everyone is back.
“But we cannot go for ever with four or five missing every game. I look at everyone else, the top sides and they haven’t had this problem, but we knew it would be a tough week.
“We need players back, our main players like Mark Knee, Kevin Keehan fully fit, Jordan Clark back and Darren Boswell fit, when we get them back we will be a decent side. They are four or our starting 11 and we can’t keep on like this.”
Di Paola also bemoaned the loss of Pagham-based Murfin due to his inability to commit to the extra travel, although hopes his circumstances may change.
He added: “Scott has got things going on outside of football and cannot come two and a bit hours on a round trip on Saturdays and Tuesdays and then to train.
“He knows at Pagham, who are just around the corner, he can play when he wants as his brother does down there. The commitment is slightly less as it is closer to him.
“He left on good terms so once he gets himself sorted he can always come back. It’s just a shame as we had been after him for so long and he was playing so well.
“In the games he has played he was probably our best players, but it is the nature of this level. We have got Evan (Archibald) who is almost fully fit and Jake Chadwick is not far away now.
“He will be coming back in as we were aiming to give him more football. I am pretty pleased with the players we have got, but we just need to get over this little hurdle.”
The visit of AFC Uckfield Town on Saturday will coincide with the club’s annual kids for free day. Mascot Howie the Hornet will be celebrating his 10th birthday with face painting, a colouring competition and a balloon race. All under-16s are completely free.
Clark should be back available on Saturday, Boswell and Knee are in contention, while Crabb and Hopkinson are expected the feature. Reports on pages 92 and 93.
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