Newly-promoted Broadbridge Heath made it two wins from two in Division 1 as they beat Horsham YMCA 2-1 at Gorings Mead on Tuesday– subjecting their hosts to their second defeat in four days.
Two first-half Tiago Andrade strikes, the first a contentious penalty, put the Bears in the driving seat at the break, and despite a Matt Crane header halving the deficit midway through the second period, the hosts failed to complete the comeback.
YM manager Peter Buckland said: “I truly don’t know what to say. I’m at a loss. I feel like we’ve been mugged, but I’m not sure if we have because Broadbridge Heath had good shape and were a good unit.
“I said to the players that I feel for them, because they couldn’t have given me anymore than they did.”
Heath boss Steve Painter said: “We rode out luck a bit and didn’t really turn up to be fair, but we kept our shape and discipline and worked hard.
“I have got a lot of players who have not played County 1 and they are learning all the time.
“The record will state 2-1 BBH though and it’s six point out of six. YM played really well though, and credit to Pete and his side as well as they were all very gracious in defeat.
“I lost two of my back four in the first 30 minutes. My skipper had to go to hospital with a gash to the head and my left-back did his hamstring, and to go to YM is hard enough already without that.”
The hosts hit the woodwork five times and also saw a first-half Liam Hunter penalty saved by Heath goalkeeper James Fisher.
The YM boss added: “We couldn’t have played much better. We’ve missed a penalty, hit the woodwork five times and had two efforts scrambled off the line, so it could easily have been 7-2. It was that kind of game.
“I’m not too bothered from the point of view that we’ve now played two league games and got no points, because last season we drew ten games and lost six and still finished fourth.”
The hosts could have been in front after just seventeen seconds, when a deep Dan Evans cross was squared at the far post by Dan Sullivan, and brother Nick Sullivan’s close-range effort came back off the underside of the crossbar.
Dan Sullivan curled onto the crossbar, after which the opening goal of the game arrived just after the quarter hour mark.
A BBH breakaway and cross from the right was poked goalwards from close range, before midfielder Danny Mobsey ballooned the follow up well over the crossbar. But referee Carl Smith belatedly brought the play back and pointed to the penalty spot, adjudging YM’s Adam O’Carroll to have fouled Mobsey, much to the dismay of the home defence.
Heath front man Andrade coolly converted from twelve yards to give the Bears the lead.
Heath then doubled their lead as Kieran Purkis was released down the right channel and after jinking inside, he fed the ball to an unmarked Andrade at the far post, who calmly sidestepped the ‘keeper and fired home.
YM were then awarded a penalty of their own when Nick Sullivan turned Heath defender Martyn Flack and the former YM man clumsily brought the striker down just inside the box.
But Hunter, who netted 18 goals from midfield last campaign, failed to take full advantage, as his spot kick was saved low to his left by Fisher in the Bears’ goal.
The second period was a much more one sided affair, as the home side quickly began to dictate proceedings. Nick Sullivan should have halved the deficit just two minutes after the restart, but after receiving the ball in acres of space in the box, he could only poke wide of the post.
Hunter then saw a whipped free kick cannon back off the far upright ten minutes later, before a low Dan Sullivan strike was well saved by Fisher.
YM’s persistence did eventually pay off, as after a series of unsuccessful set pieces, a Dan Sullivan corner was powerfully met by Crane, who headed into the far corner with just under half an hour left to play.
The hosts thought they had completed the comeback three minutes later, after a well measured Ashley Dugdale lob beat an onrushing Fisher, but the ball again came back off the post, and Nick Sullivan’s close range follow up was blocked on the line by Bears’ defender Rob Godfrey.
Dugdale wasted a final golden opportunity to equalise when he blazed over unmarked following another Crane header from a YM corner, before the visitors could have put the three points beyond all doubt late on, when Andrade poked wide of the near post.
YM: Lockwood, Carden, Crane, O’Carroll, Evans (B.Curtis 73), D. Sullivan, Gedling, Dugdale, D.Brown, Hunter (Grantham 67), N.Sullivan. Unused Subs: Flack, Ransom, Wood.
Heath: Fisher, Sultan, Howard (Attwater 39), Flack, Chester (Godfrey 28), Mobsby, McDermott, Moore, Wanstall, Purkis (Wood 75).