Horsham’s two-game winning streak came crashing to an end with a comfortable 4-1 defeat at home to play-off challengers Crawley Down Gatwick.
It was a sad end to the festive season for Hornets’ boss Simon Colbran who thought his side lacked spark after completing their fourth match in 10 days.
But it was a happy return for the most successful manager in Horsham’s history, John Maggs, who was given a warm welcome by fans and officials.
Maggs brought several of his former Horsham players to face his old club including Jamie Cade, Miles Mitchell, Jack Page and Jean-Michel Sigere while Ian Payne is Down’s assistant manager.
It was one of them, Cade, who gave the visitors the lead in the 25th minute with a well taken volley from a Ross Morley free-kick which was headed back by Luke Blewden.
Blewden then increased the lead nine minutes later with a first time shot into the corner of the net from a well judged pass from Gaby Odunaike.
Horsham kept the game alive as a contest with a timely goal for 2-1 moments before half-time as Wayne Clarke threaded a ball through to new signing Aaron Scott to put away to score on his first start for the club.
But any thoughts Horsham had of taking the game to Down in the second half were soon smashed when Maggs’ men added a third goal immediately from the restart, Logan crossing from the left for Udunaike to volley home.
Horsham created chances themselves as Scott Harris, Scott Tipper and skipper Gary Charman all had a go, Charman forced a save from a free-kick and headed a Harris corner opportunity narrowly wide.
Down rubbed salt into the wounds with a fourth goal in the 65th minute when Blewden put Odunaike through for a tap-in off the post,
Wayne Clarke forced Down keeper De Barnardo into action and blasted another effort wide and Scott Tipper and Harris also went close as Horsham battled in vain to pull a goal back.
Horsham: Hunter, Brockhurst, King, Simpson, Charman, Farmer (Hutchings 77), Marriott (Koboah 74), Harris, Tipper, Scott (Medlock 59), Clarke. Unused subs: Blaney, Woodburn
Down: De Bernardo, Slocombe, Mitchell, Richards, Page, Morley, Odunaike, Napper, Cade, Blewden (Sigere 81), Logan (Sargent 71). Unused subs: Graves, Tarrent, Frankland