Hornets set safety target as Di Paola admits it’s a learning curve

Horsham v Guernsey - manager Dominic Di Paola 07-01-17. Steve Robards  Pic SR1637967 SUS-170701-173326001
Horsham v Guernsey - manager Dominic Di Paola 07-01-17. Steve Robards Pic SR1637967 SUS-170701-173326001

Horsham manager Dominic Di Paola has revealed it’s been a season of new revelations for him and his coaching staff as well as a learning curve.

For one of the first times in their managerial careers this season has been about safety rather than chasing honours.

No-one was naive enough to think the Hornets could be pushing into the Ryman League South Division play-offs this season having just returned to this level.

It was always about getting the points to avoid a relegation battle and Di Paola thinks they now need just 14 more to secure their place in the division.

It’s been a different approach for himself, assistant Adam Westwood and coach Ian Browne, who have been tasked with title challenges at former clubs Clymping, Worthing United, East Preston and Hastings.

He admits his obsession with winning has also possibly cost them points this season in what has been a new experience.

He said: “We want 14 more points to secure our safety and that’s another four and a half wins - four wins and a couple of draws and we have achieved what we set out to do.

“If we were really up for it and on it we could have had more this season, but maybe that is this league. Maybe given our position in the league, we should be more accepting of performances, but I find it quite hard because of our history in terms of we have never had this before.

“It’s a first for us, ever, really. We had one season at Clymping when we were rock bottom at Christmas, but the second half of the season was a title push - we finished sixth in County 2.

“We have never had a season like this, where, barring the first two weeks maybe, we have been relatively mid-table. It’s a strange thing for us as a management team and group. I have found it a bit baffling at times and I can’t put my finger on it.”

The Hornets dropped two points on Saturday as they were held to a scoreless draw at home by strugglers Guernsey. But his post-match thoughts on not being content with holding out for a point, tells a story on the keenness to win.

Di Paola said: “I find it very hard to think like that. Maybe this year that is why we have lost games when we were drawing. I find it very hard, Browner and Wezzo are the same. We are thinking, if we stick another forward on we could have three points.

“When we played Cray Wanderers here and it was 2-2, we should have shut up shop. We actually should have been thinking, terrific, great performance, good result, can we hold out?

“When we played them away we were 2-1 with ten to go, could we have been slightly more conservative? That’s a learning curve for me as I don’t really think like that - what’s the point in playing football for a point?

“It sounds stupid, but if we were down the bottom scrambling then yes, but you want to win, well I do anyway.”

The Hornets host Dorking Wanderers on Saturday looking to avenge to their earlier 7-1 trouncing, before hosting Three Bridges on Tuesday night.

Tony Nwachukwu is back from holiday and Matt Price is hoping to fly back into the country in time for Saturday’s game.

Steve Metcalf is battling back from injury, but Lee Carney is still missing with a hamstring injury, with no time span on the duration he will be out for.

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