Horsham set to ‘ramp things up’ in final two pre-season friendlies

Rob O'Toole netted twice for Horsham in their 2-1 win over Newhaven. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-161127-153422008
Rob O'Toole netted twice for Horsham in their 2-1 win over Newhaven. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-161127-153422008

Horsham boss Dominic Di Paola will ramp things up in his side’s final two friendlies in preparation for the new season.

The Hornets travel to Worthing on Saturday, before visiting local rivals Horsham YMCA on Tuesday evening.

Horsham won 3-0 at Littlehampton on Friday with goals from Scott Kirkwood, Darren Budd and Lewis Hyde.

Rob O’Toole then hit a double as the Hornets won 2-1 at Newhaven on Tuesday as they preparations for the upcoming Bostik League South Division campaign pick up pace.

Paola has been pleased with how his side’s pre-season has gone so far.

He said: “We’ve got a couple of friendlies left now, so will ramp things up a bit and then have eight or nine days until our first game.

“We’ll try to give some players a few more minutes –Rob O’Toole missed the start of pre-season but is getting stronger and stronger and Darren Boswell got his first 90 minutes on Tuesday – but a lot of players have had a fair few minutes.

“After the next two friendlies, when we’ll try to get a few things finalised, we’ll have two or three training sessions to fine tune things ahead of the start.”

New signing Asa Nicholson has a hamstring injury and back-up keeper Michael Hunter is struggling with a calf problem but Di Paola hopes both will be available for the start of the season.

Having added O’Toole, Darren Budd, Chris Breach and Nicholson to last season’s squad, Di Paola insists his target this year is just to improve on last season’s 16th-placed finish.

He said: “We’ve signed some good players but it’s all relative because all of the other clubs will have signed good players too.

“I said it was a tough league last year but I think this year will be even tougher. You’ve got Greenwich and Carshalton, one of the Kent sides will be strong, Lewes and Hastings. From top to bottom, it looks a pretty solid league.

“While we haven’t got our own ground we’re standing still a little bit.

“We just want to improve on last year. I just want us to be more consistent and have a run of results.

“If we can finish in the top half, I’d be over the moon and it would be a really good season.”

Saturday’s friendly at Worthing gives the squad more game time on a 3G surface, with the Hornets’ home matches on the artificial surface at Culver Road, Lancing, this season.

Di Paola said: “I like it at Lancing and so do the players. Playing football on it will be great but this is a hard league to play football in, although we’ll always try.

“My only slight concern with it is for our older players because the impact of the surface is not quite so forgiving.”