Smith stars on Horsham YMCA return in draw at Littlehampton

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ks16001174-10 Spt FtLittHorsh phot kate SUS-160611-104525008

Goalkeeper Sam Smith helped preserve a point as he pulled off a superb late save as he returned for Horsham YMCA on Saturday.

He was handed his latest debut at the club against Littlehampton having re-signed from league rivals Loxwood during the week.

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And the stopper, who made 33 appearances for YM during the 2013/14 season, was credited as man of the match by manager Peter Buckland as he made a late stop to deny the Golds all three points.

A second-half goal from Sam Schaaf levelled up Ben Gray’s opener five minutes before half-time in the Premier Division clash.

Buckland said: “We weren’t really in it the first half, but in the second half we really went for the win. We didn’t take our chances, even though the two changes definitely altered the game. It was better to get the point out of it than nothing, but we were looking to win this one.

“Sam Smith was the player of the match on his debut, mainly because of the save he made right at the end of the game. Johnson and Schaaf both played well too, as they both made some great chances but just didn’t finish them.

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“We were a bit disappointed not to get all three points, but Littlehampton were a good side and we can use this to learn for our next few games.”

YM started to create opportunities that were not put away as Phil Johnson’s crosses were narrowly missed in the penalty area.

Littlehampton - who were bolstered by the return of striker George Gaskin and defender Mitch Hand during the week - almost opened the scoring following a backpass to Smith that was intercepted, but the chance was missed.

Dave Brown then ran the ball into the opposition’s box and his shot was well saved.

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At the back, Charlie Cooke defended well and Smith looked assured behind the away back four. Despite this, Littlehampton took the lead five minutes before half-time through Gray. After an initial effort was cleared off the line, Gray followed up to tap home the rebound to give the hosts a 1-0 advantage.

In the second half, an early chance from Brown was deflected wide as he shot from outside the box. On 53 minutes, the visitors were level as a free-kick enabled Johnson to play the ball to Schaaf, which he finished.

There were chances for a winner for both teams which added to what was becoming a fractious encounter. YM captain Ashley Dugdale played a ball over Littlehampton’s defence to Schaaf, who was denied as the home goalkeeper came out to meet the ball.

Quality build-up play from Littlehampton saw a scramble in the YM box which was eventually cleared to safety.

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YM continued to get the ball in the final third, but Littlehampton were effective at clearing the ball and launching counter attacks, from which they nearly scored on several occasions. The scoreline remained 1-1 as Smith made a fantastic save in the last few seconds.

Horsham YMCA: Smith, Gathern, Gilbert, Cooke, Harding, Curtis (Simpson 60), Evans (Godfrey 60), Dugdale, Johnson, Brown, Schaaf. Unused: Blaney, Crane, Shipton.

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