Horsham YMCA prepared for their Sussex Senior Cup semi-final on Thursday with a 4-2 league win over Dorking Wanderers at Gorings Mead to extend their unbeaten run to 12 games and move up to fourth in Division 1.
The game was ultimately won with three goals in six first half minutes, as Liam Hunter opened the scoring, before Dave Brown doubled YM’s advantage and Nick Sullivan made it 3-0, 90 seconds later.
The visitors reduced the deficit through Rishi Nankani on the stroke of half time, but were then reduced to ten men when Jerome Beckles picked up a second yellow card midway through the second period.
The home side were wasteful in front of goal and should have been further in front when Ashley Dugdale eventually extended the lead to 4-1, before Wanderers added a late consolation.
YM manager Peter Buckland said: “I need to try and calm down; I was a bit animated tonight. I thought we deservedly won the game, but I think Wanderers are a better team than a lot of people give them credit for.
“When you’re 3-0 down against us down here and we’re getting at you, most teams just lay down and die, but Dorking didn’t, they just kept coming.”
As so often has been the case at Gorings Mead this season, YM put the game to bed early on.
Hunter hooked home the opener on 16 minutes, albeit in confusing fashion, after referee Darren Eaton appeared to have blown his whistle, but then awarded the goal.
Brown capitalised on a poor Dorking clearance to nip past his man and then fire into the corner to double the hosts’ lead, before Nick Sullivan latched onto a neat through ball, coolly rounded the goalkeeper, side stepped a defender and slid the ball into an empty net moments later.
The hosts had further chances to extend their lead as Sullivan again raced through but saw his shot trickle the wrong side of the far upright, Brown headed off target and Hunter fired wide after Dan Sullivan had been denied a stonewall penalty.
But it was the visitors who netted next, reducing the deficit right on the stroke of half time. A tamely conceded free kick was whipped in from the Dorking left and after an initial effort cannoned back off of the crossbar, Chris Boulter was twice denied on the goal line, before Nankani eventually rifled home an unstoppable strike from the edge of the area.
Hosts YM continued to squander numerous opportunities after the break; Dugdale blazed over when well placed on the edge of the area, and after a flowing move skipper Dugdale saw a tame shot blocked.
Wanderers’ Beckles was then sent off for a second booking, as YM applied yet more pressure.
Gedling released Curtis down the right, but he fired wide of the far post, before Dugdale made up for his earlier missed opportunities when a quickly taken Brown free kick found Dan Sullivan, and his sublime cross from the left was headed inside the far post by the YM skipper to make it 4-1.
A sweeping move then culminated in Curtis again firing wide of the upright, before striker Sullivan also struck off target when released down the right.
Five minutes from time Dorking grabbed a consolation when Jon Boswell added Wanderers’ second from a poorly defended free kick.
Buckland added: “In the second half we were trying to get the word out to the players to try and just contain the game without too much exertion because of the game on Thursday. We’ve come through tonight without any injuries thankfully, which is great.”
YM now have a two-day rest before lining up for the biggest cup tie in their recent history when they face Bognor Regis Town in the semi-final of the Sussex Senior Challenge Cup at Whitehawk’s East Brighton Park on Thursday evening.
YM (4-2-3-1): Lockwood, Carden, Burgess, O’Carroll, Evans, Gedling, Dugdale (c) (J. Brown 77), D. Brown (Gannon 78), D. Sullivan, Hunter (B. Curtis 45), N. Sullivan. Unused Subs: Crane, Hyett.